Mesmerizing Festivities and Events
Cities and towns throughout Italy celebrate Christmas with a variety of enchanting events and lively processions. In Rome, the Piazza Navona transforms into a bustling Christmas market, adorned with festive lights and stalls selling local handicrafts and seasonal treats. Other noteworthy markets can be found in Venice, Florence, Milan, Bolzano and South Tyrol.
Meanwhile, in Naples, the streets resonate with the sounds of traditional Christmas carols, and locals partake in the mystical celebration of the Feast of Santa Lucia, symbolizing light overcoming darkness during the winter solstice.
For those wanting to celebrate the Christian side of the season, being present in The Vatican on Christmas Eve for Midnight Mass is a very special experience to behold. The atmosphere in the Vatican during Christmas Eve is festive and joyous, with the square adorned with Christmas decorations and a large Christmas tree lit up in St. Peter’s Square. Pilgrims often come from various parts of the world to experience the spiritual significance of celebrating Christmas in the heart of the Catholic Church.
Some of the many Italian Christmas traditions
Zampognari pipers – dressed in traditional sheepskin and wool cloaks with peaked hats, the zampognari pipers come into the city from their mountain homes, performing traditional music and hymns including the much-loved Italian carol Tu scendi dalle stelle. This tradition still exists in Naples and Rome.
La Befana – In Italy children not only receive gifts on Christmas Eve/Day but also on January 6th the Feast of the Epiphany known as La Befana deriving from the Italian word Epifania. The gifts are normally candies and small toys sometimes left in a stocking and if the children have been naughty they may receive a lump of coal! La Befana rides on a broom and climbs down the chimney to deliver the gifts – wonder where she got that idea from!
Midnight Skiing – In Northern Italy it’s no surprise that skiing is a big part of of the holiday season there but they also have a magical tradition in some parts where skiers hit the slopes just around midnight on Christmas Eve with torches to light the way and herald the start of Christmas Day.