Buon Natale: The Christmas Season in Italy

Christmas in ItalyOn the Cvent Event Blog, time and time again, we've seen that holiday celebrations around the world can be a great source of ideas for event planners. Today, let's find inspiration from Italy.

In some parts of Italy, traditions from Northern Europe like Christmas markets (Mercatino di Natale) have become popular. They are open from late December until early January. The largest Christmas market is in Bolzano in South Tyrol.

La Festa di San Nicola, is observed on December 6 in some towns to honor Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of shepherds. Large cauldrons of baked beans are cooked over open fires.

The festive season in Italy begins on December 8 with Festa di Immacolata Concezione, a national holiday and a time of fasting and processions. Many families put up their Christmas trees and decorations on this day.

On December 13, Festa di Santa Lucia, dating back to 1337, is observed in some parts of Italy. On the Gregorian Calendar, this coincided with the winter solstice.

The 8 days before Christmas day are referred to as Novena. Traditionally, on December 23, children dress as shepherds, sing and play shepherd's pipes and flutes as they go from house to house collecting money for treats. In some areas Zampognairi, (real shepherds) come and sing traditional carols.

There is a fast for 24 hours before Christmas. After mass on Christmas Eve, families share a meal called Cenone or the Feast of Seven Fishes, a 7-course meal in which fish and seafood (including eel, salted cod and shrimp) is served.

On December 25, in some regions Babbo Natale (Father Christmas) leaves gifts under the tree for the children. In other regions, gift giving takes place on Epiphany.

On December 26th, Festa di Santo Stefano (Saint Stephen's Day as immortalized in the carol Good King Wenceslas), the precursor to Boxing Day, a public holiday in Italy. There are processions in some towns.

La BefanaOn New Year's Eve, La Festa di San Silvestro is observed with a large meal, wine and fireworks.

For Epiphany, children hang their stockings. They hope that La Befana, a busy old lady who resembles a witch and carries a broom, will stop by to give them gifts and candy. (Naughty children get lumps of coal.)

Foreign Festive Fare for Christmas Events, Corporate Events: 6 Cool Christmas Event Themes (Caribbean), 4 Fabulous Christmas Event Themes (Austria), German Christmas Markets: Where to Find Them in Europe.

Photo Credits: Scott D. Haddow, Eleonora Gianinetto

blog comments powered by Disqus
Subscribe to our Monthly Newsletter
Receive updates on the latest trends, best practices, and strategies
to transform your meetings and events