So, here in Italy January 6 is still a holiday, it’s the Epiphany day. Everyone (well almost, unfortunately shops are open) is at home enjoying the last family meal of the holiday season.
When I was little I thought the Befana (an old lady who flies her broom, like a witch but without witchy powers) was Santa’s wife and this view is commonly found among children. The concept of Befana is actually the same to Santa, thus the misunderstanding of her being his wife. She brings small gifts and candies to kids, but here where I live since we have Saint Lucia, she brings a stock full of sweets. And she can bring coal to bad kids, just like Santa,
There are a lot of traditional Christmas food served on Christmas day and the day after (since it’s still a holiday for us) but it depends on where you live.
Everywhere, anyway, the most traditional food is the Panettone and for us who don’t like candied fruits, the Pandoro.
Where I’m from, Lombardy, staffed capon is the main dish even if we, as family, don’t have it.
Moreover, there are families who celebrate and have a big Christmas Eve dinner (usually fish based), and families who celebrate on Christmas day, but anyway both have hors d’oeuvre, first course, second, cheese, fruit and dessert.
What are the most important dates in the Italian calendar?
The Christmas season starts on December 8th when we celebrate the Immaculate Conception which is the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary free from original sin by virtue of the merits of her son Jesus Christ. The Catholic Church teaches that God acted upon Mary in the first moment of her conception keeping her “immaculate”. Usually families get together for lunch and it is traditionally the day that the Christmas tree and Nativity Scene are built.
Today is Saint Lucy!
The tradition says that Saint Lucy will bring toys to kids during the night between the 12th and 13th of December, but not everyone will get them. Only in certain part of Italy we have Saint Lucy, for example the main cities of Rome or Milan, don’t have her.
Traditionally a bouquet of hay is put outside of the house for Lucy’s Donkey and food in the house for Lucy to refresh them after the long night bringing gift to every kid. In small towns, a parade with Saint Lucy is held the evening of the 12th when she goes through the main streets of the town launching sweets and candies from her cart, always together with her donkey.