Italian Holiday Season Traditions

Italian Christmas Gift - Italian Side
Italian Christmas Gifts
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Italian New Year’s Eve: what the italians do - Italian Side
Italian New Year’s Eve: what the italians do
December 28, 2018
Italian Christmas Traditions - Italian Side

In Italy there are lots of holiday season traditions dealing with food, of course, music, peculiar characters, household Christmas decorations, such as presepe.
Let’s have a look to some of them.

The Christmas tree and the presepe (Nativity)

Let’s start with decorations!
During the festive time the houses, the railings, the streets are filled up with lights and Christmas trees. Someone uses to hang up a Santa Claus stuffed animal out on the wall of the building. We are used to decorate our houses on the 8th December, that is the Feast of Immaculate Conception.
At the same time we use to set up a presepe, that is the nativity scene. The most part of us is very keen on doing presepe. On the one hand, there are people that simply arrange a cave and the main characters, on the other hand, there are others that set up a miniature village with lots of characters.
Furthermore, in some city, such as Matera, are used to represent a presepe vivente (living Nativity scene).

The music of bagpipes

In Italy the sound of bagpipes is related to Christmas, and the bagpipe players are important characters in the presepe: they are usually placed close to the cave playing at the birth of Jesus. Therefore, during the days before and after Christmas you may hear the sound of bagpipes through the alleys of the towns.


This is a Christmas Novena played by zampogna (bagpipe) and ciaramella (shawm).

New Year’s Eve and the feast

Italian food is very appreciated all around the world because it is great. Probably it is great because we really love eating.
The New Year is welcomed sharing a great dinner with friends and family. The menu vary from region to region, but lentils can’t miss on the table, they are symbol of good luck.
At the conclusion of the meal there are lots of handmade sweets and two main desserts such as Panettone and Pandoro. Both of them come from the Northern Italy: the first is filled with raisin and candied fruit, the second has a peculiar eight-point star shape.

The Befana

At the moment, like all around the world, Santa Claus is the real star of the Italian holiday season. But he is not the only one. In Italian traditions there is another character: the Befana.
She is a little ugly old lady, she uses to travel on a broomstick and to visit the Italian houses the night between the 5th and the 6th of January. Usually she fills the socks children left at the bottom of the Christmas tree with sweets or with sugary charcoal, if they were rascal during the year.
The Feast of Befana is the last day of Italian holiday season.

Did you know all of these traditions?
Share your experience and memories with us.