Christmas starts in Italy on the Day of the Immaculate Conception (December 8th) and goes all the way to the Day of Epiphany (January 6th). For the week and day (Novena) leading up to Christmas Day, caroling takes place; often accompanied by bagpipe playing shepherds known as zampognari. Nativity scenes (prespi) abound. Italy, where this sacred decoration originated, is famous for its hand crafted nativity scenes). The Italian version of Father Christmas can be seen spreading good cheer.
On Christmas Eve the Feast of Seven Fishes is still celebrated in many Italian households (no meat is consumed as a gesture of purity) followed by midnight Mass. Christmas Day is reserved for feasting! Roasts, pastas and panettone (a candied fruit filled cake) are served at lunch and the meal usually lasts all day. The day after: even more feasting for Santo Stafano when the previous days leftovers are enjoyed. Check out this mouthwatering list of 20 traditional Italian Christmas dishes from Huffington Post.
On the last day of the holiday season (the 12th day of Christmas), known as the Day of Epiphany, gifts are given (as brought by La Befana). See La Befana herself as she explains her story in this video from Epcot’s Holidays around the World (as captured by our very own JeniLynn):
Keep ITM on your radar for more traditions from around the World Showcase.