Christmas season in Italy generally begins on December 24th and ends around January 6th, or the date of Christmas Eve until Epiphany. However, there are events that are part of Christmas in Italy, but held prior to Christmas Eve, such as The Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception, which is on December 8th.
Although the tradition of gift giving in Italy is generally done during Epiphany on January 6th, the giving of gifts by Babbo Natale has grown more common over time. The tradition of giving gifts on January 6th follows the timing of the Twelfth Day of Christmas, which is attributed to when the Three Wise Men arrived in Bethlehem and presented their gifts to Baby Jesus. Although Babbo Natale leaves gifts for Christmas morning, La Befana comes during the night and leaves gifts in stockings for Italian children on Epiphany.
Decorations and Christmas trees are also becoming more commonly seen during Christmas in Italy. Although these decorations have become more popular, still the most common and traditional decoration is the presepe, or Nativity scene. Commonly they are seen in front of churches and in public squares.
Foods are a significant portion of Christmas celebrations in Italy. Often a meatless dinner is eaten on Christmas Eve with family members prior to attending Midnight Mass and in Southern Italy it is common for a dinner of seven fish to be served. On Christmas Day families have a dinner with meat included in the course servings.
Although Christmas is celebrated all over the country, there are a few particular cities and festivals that have well known celebratory traditions. Naples, Rome, Saint Peterâ??s Square, Torino, and Monte Ingino, and a host of other cities and locations are renowned for their Christmas celebrations.
Christmas in Italy is steeped in tradition, especially since it is the home of the Catholic Church and Christianity has been at the core of Italian culture for centuries. Although there are new traditions emerging, the old traditions are still strong and celebrations can be observed everywhere in Italy, whether the celebration is in a small town or a large city such as Rome.