Buone Feste! 7 Italian Christmas Traditions You Didn’t Know About
As Christmas looms around the corner, we find ways to celebrate Christmas in the most interesting ways. From peculiar and unheard-of Italian traditions across Italy to uncommon ones, we’re making a list and checking it twice, of some of the more interesting ones you probably haven’t heard of.
Although it’s more common to wish someone Buon Natale (Merry Christmas) on Christmas day, Christmas time is celebrated throughout the month in Italy. This is why you should be wishing Buone Feste (Good Festival) anytime throughout the month of December, which is common throughout the month-long celebration.
Although Christmas trees are the most common way of celebrating Christmas around the world, the Nativity scene, also known as the Presepi or Presepio, refers to the ‘crib’ and is usually quite extravagant, some even decorating the whole town of Bethlehem. The manger scene traditionally consists of Joseph, Mary, Jesus, the three wise kings and the barn animals, however, the Presepi extends to also include all the townsfolk, with recent years also including different people from the cities, including the town pizzaiolo.
While Santa Clause is known throughout the world, which the Italians affectionally call Babbo Natale, there is La Befana, a kind old woman usually depicted as a good witch. Legend has it that on the way to receive Jesus at the nativity the Three Wise Men invited her to join them but she was too declined. Once she realised he was baby Jesus, she regretted her choice and has ever since made up to children across Italy delivering to them gifts, all the way until Epiphany on January 6. In Rome, Bologna and Venice, La Befana is usually seen at activities for kids, so much so that in Venice she appears on a boat.
While many parts of the world have their own practices such as carolling and Christmas choirs, the Italians have the Zampognari, bagpipe players that travel from town to town playing traditional Christmas music at the piazzas. This tradition started in Rome and is found throughout southern Italy and Sicily playing Christmas folk music.
Pasta! Pasta! Pasta!
You would think that because the Italians eat pasta quite often, they wouldn’t as much on Christmas, but as you can imagine, many Italians celebrate Christmas with pasta, a tradition that has seeped into many cultures very subtly. It is common to find all sorts of pasta dishes during the Christmas dinner, from Cacio e pepe to raviolis to the all too common lasagne Bolognese, an Italian household isn’t celebrating Christmas without
In Italy, the Christmas Day meal is called the Cenone, and what many people across the world do not know that like the French with their Buche Noel, and the German Stollen, the Italians have their own Christmas dessert, the Panettone. A very meticulously made bread, the desseert bread originates from Milan and is usually filled with dried fruit like raisins and nuts, and it methodically made. There is also a chocolate version for those not into raisins.
Feast of Seven Fishes
While mainly an Italian-American tradition, the Feast of the Seven Fishes (Esta dei Sette Pesci) exclude the eating of meats, where only fish and vegetables are the main course. It is believed that this practice originated in Southern Italy and was brought to America by Italian immigrants in the 1800s. This is usually only for Christmas Eve, where turkey and roasts are back on the menu for the Cenona, or Christmas Day.
Spend the Christmas Festivities with the Marini’s Group
Marini’s on 57 is one of Kuala Lumpur’s best place to experience that one of a kind Italian experience, whether you’re looking for something to do with a loved one or with family, the offerings at the Marini’s Group will definitely make your Christmas ever so outstanding.
Be captivated by the sunset and lavishing drinks and fine dining at Marini’s on 57!
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