Are you feeling festive?
I am definitely into the Christmas spirit. Christmas is a bit more than one week away and I am enjoying every minute of the wait.
I am baking cookies and sweets like crazy, I am wrapping presents while listening to festive tunes, and just making sure that everything is ready for our celebrations.
But how do Italians celebrate Christmas?
In a variety of ways, let me tell you. Things can be very different from region to region, traditions vary quite a bit from North to South, from family to family. Last week I told you about the traditions of the days leading up to Christmas, today I am trying to describe to you how we celebrate Christmas.
It will be quite a personal point of view, I have to warn you. I am sure that if I lived in the South, my ways of celebrating would be pretty different, for example.
Anyway, let’s see how we do Christmas!
Proper Christmas celebrations begin on Christmas Eve. When I was a kid, my father worked shifts and we didn’t have a real Christmas tradition. If my father had to work on Christmas day, we would celebrate the night before, but if he was free on Christmas day, Christmas Eve was just a night to stay at home, watch TV and relax.
As I might have already told you, we have never been very religious in my family, which means we almost never went to Mass. However, it is quite customary to go to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.
People usually spend the evening with their family and then go out to reach the nearest church for the traditional Mass, which is usually followed by panettone e vin brulè (panettone and mulled wine) offered by the church – at least, some of the churches I know do it and I find it really nice and warm.
And then comes Christmas day!
It is quite common to wake up, have a nice breakfast and then open your presents! When I was a kid and was done believing in Father Christmas, I was so impatient that I ended up convincing my mom it would be cosier to open the presents on Christmas Eve and we somehow kept this tradition until a while ago. Nowadays we hardly exchange any presents, which makes things much easier!
Christmas day is definitely the day for a big, huge, overwhelming Christmas lunch – unless you had cenone della vigilia (Christmas Eve’s big dinner) the night before. People either have lunch at home or at the restaurant, but in both cases, lunch is most undoubtedly massive. Y
ou may end up spending all your day eating, not joking. After eating, you may crash on the couch and just try to keep breathing or play some board games or go to the movies for the latest blockbuster, if you still have some energy.
But Christmas is not over here!
We still have one Christmas day! It’s on December 26th, it’s called Santo Stefano (Saint Stephen’s Day) and it’s still holiday over here. Saint Stephen’s day is much more relaxed than Christmas day, you can basically just chill out and relax.
If you have spent Christmas at your parents’, you might be forced to go over and eat avanzi (leftovers), but your mother won’t turn into a drama queen if you just want to relax and do your thing.
And you? Do you celebrate Christmas? If so, how do you do it? Let me know!
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