8th Day Before Christmas: What Makes an Italian Christmas?


The Local asks Italians of all ages.

This article appears on The Local.

What makes an Italian Christmas?

With Christmas just around the corner, The Local spoke to some Italians to find out what Christmas is really about for them.

An Italian Christmas is a mixture of centuries-old regional traditions and more modern touches, often with a slight American influence. But at the heart of the holiday for most Italians is the idea of celebrating the birth of Jesus, with family and good food.

The Feast of the Seven Fishes, or cenone (literally ‘big dinner’) as it is called, is the main meal of the festive season. Unlike in the UK and the US, it’s eaten on Christmas Eve and celebrates the wait for Jesus to be born.

Traditionally, Catholics abstain from eating meat in the 24 hours leading up to Christmas day, which is why fish usually take centre stage.

“The most important thing is eating dinner all together as a family,” 22-year-old student Federica Bilecci told The Local.

Once dinner is over, many Italians head off to midnight mass – whether or not they’re regular churchgoers the rest of the year. Read more at The Local…

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