Christmas is a day awaited by Christians around the world, a day where people spend time with family and close friends. Every country has their own Christmas traditions, including Italy. The majority of the population in Italy is Catholic, as it is the center of the Catholic religion. In Italy, Christmas celebrations begin eight days before Christmas and go until the Feast of the Epiphany, which is January 6. The week before Christmas, children go from house to house wearing dressed as shepherds while reciting poetry and singing Christmas songs. Then the house owner will give them money to buy Christmas gifts.
Christmas trees in Italy are not actual trees, but are made out of bottles and lights arranged in the shape of a Christmas tree. They can also be made from wood decorated with fruits, ornaments, and much more. Besides the unique Christmas tree, Italy also has several festivals around Christmas, such as:
- Verona Natale in Arena is a festival which shows 400 nativity scenes, both from international museums and private collections.
- Christmas Market is one of the most famous traditions in Italy, located in the Piazza Navona, Rome. Every winter before Christmas this place is crowded with both locals and tourists. At the Christmas Market, a person can buy Christmas decorations, candy, chocolate and nativity scenes.
- Jazz Party is a festival held on New Year’s Eve.
- Midnight Mass
Usually on Christmas Eve, Catholics fast from meat, then at midnight they gather at Vatican City for a mass led by the Pope. After the mass is over they go home and have their big Christmas dinner. One dish they eat at the dinner is Panettone (typical Christmas cake of Italy).
Other unique Christmas celebrations in Italy are:
- On Epiphany Eve, an old woman named La Befana delivers gifts to children, much like Santa Claus. Santa Claus still comes on Christmas Eve, so Italian children get gifts from both.
- Families display their wrapped gifts in a pyramid-shaped ceppo, along with candles and other decorations.
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