those of you wondering how Italians spend Christmas in Italy this is
for you. Italian Christmas celebrations
begin long before the 25th December. In Italy,
Christmas celebrations actually start on the 8th December with the
Feast of the Immaculate Conception
before this celebration
Italian women are busy in Italian kitchens making biscotti for this
The 13th December is another special day to celebrate - Santa
Christmas in Italy: Christmas Eve Meals and Italian Traditions
the meal prepared is
dominated by fish when years ago
the Catholic decreed that meat could not be eaten on the night before
Christmas as well as on Fridays. Although this ban has since been
lifted but old habits die hard and many Catholic families around the
world still follow this ruling by eating fish on Fridays as well as on
The Christmas Eve meal is the Feast of the Seven
Fishes or the Feast of the Twelve Fishes which refers to the Christmas
Vigil (La Vigilia di Natale
of waiting for Christmas day to come
around. The number of fish dishes served have religious significance
with 7 representing the last full week of Advent, or the seven
sacraments, and 12 representing the 12 apostles.
Many of the
Christmas Eve meals begin with a meatless antipasto of Baccala
salted cod, fish fillets, calamari, shrimps, mussels and clams can be
found, along with provolone and mozzarella cheese, roasted red peppers,
artichoke hearts, olives etc.
Sicily has its own unique cuisine
and as a result their Christmas Eve meal is slightly different. Their
antipasto often includes different fish and seafood such as eels, cured
tuna (bresola di tonne
smoked swordfish and marinated octopus.
Tomatoes, capers, chillies, olives, red peppers also make up the
Plate after plate of fish dishes are prepared and then eaten with the
family over a period of several hours.
may also be served as one of the fish dishes in Sicily with tomatoes
and capers. They also love fristo misto
which is a collection of
seafood and fish fried in a light batter. Then there is pastizzu
made with fish and vegetables that is also very popular. However, for
sure one of those fish dishes will be baccala
from dried salted cod.
side the fish dishes there
are other meatless dishes finished off with a few selections of
desserts which usually includes panettone
a large sweet bread made from
raisins and dried fruit that originated in Milan, but now eaten and
enjoyed throughout Italy.
Italian families love their dolce
the end of any meal. However, during the Christmas season when they
have finished their Christmas Eve meal, out will come the panettone
presents will be opened before heading out for midnight mass.
Christmas in Italy: Christmas Day Meals and Italian Traditions
Day in Italy
dawns and food again predominates. For
those who didn't quite make
midnight mass the night before, they can attend morning mass before the
Christmas mid-day meal.
Appetizers start emerging and differ
according to the regions of Italy. Those who live in Sicily will be
eating eggplants, swordfish and ricotta dishes are served. If you live
in the Veneto area you can expect raddichio
truffles. In Lombardy beetroot ravioli is a special Christmas appetizer
and in Liguria they make a special maccherioni
that is made with pasta
and capon broth mixed with tripe, luganega
comes the popular stuffed pasta dishes served with a hot broth. The
pasta could be stuffed with veal, pumpkin or beef. If you live in
Abruzzo instead of stuffed pasta you could be sitting down to soup.
Cardoon soup or chestnut soup could be on the menu. There is still
pasta on the Christmas table in Abruzzo, but is is a type of spaghetti
known as chitara spaghetti
or guitar string pasta served with either a
rich wild boar or hare meat sauce.
In the Trentino Alto-Adige
dumplings made with speck and stale bread in a hot
broth follow appetizers of rolled speck stuffed with ricotta and
sprinkled with Vezzana cheese of the region.
Depending on where
you live it could be a meal a stuffed turkey or more traditionally a
stuffed capon. The tender capon is usually stuffed with ham, black
truffles, butter and Marsala wine. If a turkey is chosen then it is
usually stuffed with chestnuts and prunes by those who have chestnut
groves growing within the region. Another popular stuffing
the turkey is chestnuts, dried fruit and pancetta.
Trentino Alto-Adige region their main dish usually consists of red
meats such as beef and lamb roasted with mushrooms, herbs and
For those who live in Luguria fish is very much
part of their staple diet. As a result their main Christmas meal is
still fish; a delicious fish stew using lobsters, oysters, prawns, line
fish, artichokes, salsify and potatoes.
After several hours of
round to finish off the meal. Panetonne
more Christmas tables in Italy more than any other dessert. However,
again there are regional specialties that are eaten instead.
the Trentino Alto-Adige region their dessert is zelten
a bread similar
includes nuts and candied citron in addition to the
traditional raisins and dried fruit.
In Verona they eat pandoro
in Siena it is panforte
and in Sicily they eat buccellato
a cake made
of figs, raisins, orange zest, spices, honey, walnuts, and chocolate.
Christmas in Italy: Italian New Year Celebrations
you thought that the Christmas celebrations were over for the festive
season Italian housewives are busy in the kitchen once again slaving
over hot stoves preparing for New Year
New Year in Italy is
known as San Silvestre
and this time the eat dishes of lentils for good
luck. The good luck comes in the shape of the lentils which look like
small coins therefore eating these for New Year will ensure prosperity
and wealth for the year.
The lentils are served in a variety of
ways but traditionally with rich pork sausages from either Tuscany with
Cotechino and zampone fillings are
very similar although the filling for the cotechino is more finely
minced and more spicy.
Those in Piedmont celebrate New Year a
little differently. Risotto is central to their diet and therefore it
stands to good reason that this would also be served on New Year's day
along with lentils and other traditional dishes of the region such as
However, the celebrations are not
quite over because there is Epiphany on the 6th January. Not only are
cookies baked for this day but this is a great day for kids who look
forward to Bafana
the witch, the street celebrations and more presents
for good children.
Bafana the Witch
Finally, Christmas in Italy and all Italian celebrations are finally
over for another year.