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5 Italian Holidays and Traditions to Try This Holiday Season
Are you of Italian descent? What holiday traditions do you celebrate every holiday season that have been passed down from one generation to the next? Italians celebrate the holiday season and Christmas with a wide range of month-long festivities that you can add to your own collection of holiday traditions this year.
1. Babbo Natale
Babbo Natale is the Italian name for Santa Claus, who arrives on Christmas Eve to deliver candy and toys to good girls and boys. In recent years, Babbo Natale is starting to become more common in many Italian households as part of Christmas celebrations.
2. La Befana
La Befana is an old woman who was approached by the Three Wise Men for a place to stay as they journeyed to Bethlehem for the birth of Christ. They invited La Befana to join them on their journey, but she declined. A short time later, she had a change of heart and set off to find the Three Wise Men and the baby Jesus.
To this day, she is still searching and leaves toys, candy, fruit, and other treats for good boys and girls on Epiphany Eve (January 6th). Bad children get coal. La Befana is often depicted wearing a shawl, riding a broomstick, and having soot on her face because she enters homes through chimneys.
3. December 8th Is the Official Start of the Holiday Season
December 8th is considered a holiday in Italy, with schools and businesses closed so families can decorate their homes for the holidays. This is the time when holiday baking also starts. Many Italian homes also wrap presents for Christmas on this day.
On each day leading up to Christmas Day, decorations, trees, Nativity scenes, and more continue to appear everywhere. You will also notice the scents of the season in the air coming from homes, as well as retailers that sell mulled wine, holiday treats, roasted chestnuts, etc.
4. Christmas Is a Three-Day Celebration
Christmas is a three-day celebration that begins on the 24th and ends on the 26th. Some families choose to celebrate with a huge dinner on Christmas Eve. Other families have a light meal instead. Most households attend Midnight Mass at their local church.
After Mass, celebrations continue throughout the evening and Christmas Day. Children look forward to the arrival of Babbo Natale and will leave out a glass of milk, Christmas cake, and nuts before heading off to bed.
Families will celebrate Christmas Day by exchanging presents, eating a huge Christmas Day lunch even if they already had a big meal on Christmas Eve, and enjoying time with family and friends. Eating and enjoying holiday delicacies is an all-day affair.
After the presents are opened, children get to play with their new toys or play board games with the entire family. Some families even make the day electronic-free with no TVs, tablets, or the internet. The only exception is holiday music playing in the background.
December 26th is the end of the Christmas festivities. This day is where families visit friends and relatives to exchange presents and share good foods and wines with one another. The 26th is a national holiday in Italy so everyone can enjoy the day.
5. New Year’s Eve Is an All-Night Celebration
Italians celebrate New Year’s Eve with an all-night-long event that includes a huge meal, snacks, treats, and wines. New Year’s Day is when everyone unwinds from the previous night’s celebration by relaxing and just enjoying time with family. Of course, there’s another big lunch to eat!
The celebrations continue through January 6th and the start of Epiphany. One common theme in all Italian households during the holiday season is lots of great-tasting foods, snacks, treats, and wines.
Everyone at the Italian American Citizenship Assistance Program wishes you and your family a happy, safe, and joyous holiday season! We hope you incorporate these Italian holiday traditions in your holidays this year.
For assistance with obtaining Italian citizenship and finding out if you qualify for American-Italian dual citizenship status, please feel free to give us a call at (305) 812-5512 for a free telephone consultation today!