As Italy is home to Rome, where the Vatican resides, it is logical that Christmas is a big holiday there. Though one of the oldest Christmas traditions from Southern Italy, it remains a popular one on the tables of Italian-Americans today. Italy has countless centuries-old Christmas traditions, but one of the most captivating is the living nativity. As the homeroom parent I was asked to join in on the planning. In Città di Castello, you can celebrate Christmas Eve on the Tiber River, where a group of canoeists dressed as Father Christmas makes their way to the bridge at Porta San Florido in light-covered canoes. To mark the occasion the Christmas decorations are put up, including the tree and the very important nativity crib. Christmas in Italy is also a time of traditions, with customs varying from region to region, particularly in relation to festive Italian food, with universal favourites including sweet Christmas breads or cakes such as panettone and pandoro.However, unlike northern Europe and the US, the main Christmas meal in Italy is based around fish - multiple courses of it - on Christmas Eve. Epiphany and La Befana The festivities in Italy continue to run from Christmas Eve through to the Epiphany on the 6th January, which is when Christmas presents are traditionally handed out. There are many ways to get into the Christmas spirit if you’re visiting Italy during the holidays. Fish is the food of choice for Christmas eve. The greatest feast of the ancient Roman Empire, "Saturnalia" (a winter solstice celebration), just happens to coincide with the Christmas celebrations of the Advent. The event features a market, an ice-skating rink, and entertainment. Buone Feste: A Month of Holidays. Fish Dinners On Christmas Eve: It’s tradition to eat fish for dinner on Christmas Eve. The eating of sweets and chocolates has become popular worldwide, and sweeter Christmas delicacies include the German stollen, marzipan cake or … Potatoes. Many celebrate 12 days – from Christmas Eve on December 24 until Epiphany on January 6 – which also coincides with the winter solstice festival of previous centuries. This time is often referred to as the Twelve Days of Christmas. The 12th day of Christmas is when the three Wise Men gave Baby Jesus their gifts. Christmas trees, lights, and decorations are often seen starting around December 8, the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception, or even the end of November. When they get out of their canoes after going under a cradle suspended from the bridge, each Father Christmas canoeist will give small presents to the children gathered there. In Abbadia di San Salvatore, near Montalcino, the Fiaccole di Natale or Festival of Christmas Torches is celebrated on Christmas Eve with carols and torchlight processions in memory of the shepherds from the first Christmas Eve. Torino also holds a Mercatino di Natale during December in the Borgo Dora area. In some towns there are processions. Christmas Food and Traditions in Italy. Rome's Piazza Navona hosts a big Christmas Market, though it's heavy on cheap souvenirs. In southern Italy, seafood is traditionally eaten on Christmas Eve and is related to the Catholic tradition of avoiding meat on the eve of certain holidays. If you're traveling to Italy during this festive season, you're certain to run into a variety of special events, celebrations, and holiday markets throughout the country. The Trentino-Alto Adige Region in northern Italy is one of the best regions for Christmas markets, largely due to its close proximity to Germany, where the tradition originates. An illuminated arch with a huge star points to the Christmas market, and there will also be a life-sized nativity scene displayed in the Roman Arena throughout the season. The city of Ivrea is greatly known for the Battle of Oranges this should refer to Napoleone 's acts. The Christmas celebrations in Italy last for nearly a full month from December 8th to January 6th. Although almost every major city in Italy has some sort of Christmas market, only a few communities come together to build an entire Christmas village for guests to enjoy: the Campo Santo Stefano neighborhood of Venice and the Wonderland Village in Milan. Slovenes prepare the traditional Christmas bread potica, bûche de Noël in France, panettone in Italy, and elaborate tarts and cakes. In some towns in Sicily fires are burned in the squares on Christmas Eve to prepare for Jesus's arrival, and people gather to share gifts. Stalls selling a variety of merchandise are open all week and on the weekends there's music and entertainment for children. After all, gift-giving predates modern consumerism by millennia, and Italian shops and city centers have long traditions of decorating and making things for Christmas—even when things were more modest. In Italy the Christmas season lasts for a few weeks up until Epiphany. In Italy, Christmas eating starts at lunchtime then continues well into the night. Since then, this tradition has been recreated all over Italy, and in many other Catholic countries. In former times, the shepherds and flutists were the shepherds who descended from the mountains in order to entertain people with Christmas melodies. Christmas Traditions in Italy. Naples is one of the best cities to visit for Nativity displays. At the heart of any Italian Christmas celebration are family, friends, and lots of food. The Christmas tree in Piazza Venezia Christmas in Rome: lights. More than 12 miles (20 kilometers) of streets and squares are illuminated by some of the best light artists in Europe from late November through early January for the annual holiday lighting displays across the city. For most Italians, the celebration of the Christmas season begins on Christmas Eve, or shortly before, and runs until the Epiphany—the traditional Twelfthtide. The very roots of our modern Christmas belong in Italy.Christmas, the Feast of the Nativity, was decreed by Emperor Aurelian in A.D. 274 to take place on December 25 th of each year. ChristmAs Eve Italian Food Traditions. One of the most important events linked to Chrismas time in Italy is the preparation of the crib, which is termed presepe in my country.According to the tradition, the first crib would date back to the time of Saint Francis of Assisi. For the whole month of December you’ll find food shops stocked with seasonal goodies. La Befana: an Italian Christmas tradition La Befana, which falls each year on 6 January, is a public holiday across Italy. Almost every church has a presepe, and they are often found outdoors in a piazza (plaza) or public area. Italy Christmas food traditions . Posted by Stephanie Brandhuber; Have yourself a Buon Natale by spending the Christmas holidays in Italy. Santa has begun to make an appearance in recent years, but there are several unique Christmas traditions in Italy that stretch back centuries and are still celebrated today. Mar 8, 2017 - If you're spending Christmas in Italy, or if you want to know how to bring Italian Christmas traditions to your home, this is the place to be.