Christmas officially kicks off on December 7, the day when we celebrate St. Ambrose, the patron saint of the city.
“Oh bej! Oh bej! the most important and traditional Christmas fair in Milan is held from 7 December (day of the patron saint of Milan, Ambrose) until the following Sunday.
Its name dates back to 1510 and comes from the exclamations of joy the Milanese children unleashed delegate of Pope, Giannetto Castiglione visiting Milan on 7 December. According to the legend, Giannetto wanted to ingratiate himself with the Milanese, and thus entered the city carrying boxes full of sweets and toys for the Milanese children. The Lombard expression “Oh bej! Oh bej!” Milanese standing for “oh so nice! oh so nice” is supposedly a reference to the cheerful cries of the Milanese children receiving presents from Giannetto.
Until 2006 the fair was held around the square dedicated to Sant’Ambrose and surrounding streets. Today is held around the Sforzesco Castle with more than 300 exhibitors expression of the Milanese tradition: sweets and Christmas or winter delicacies, handcrafts such as Christmas decorations, toys, antiques, souvenirs, bric-a-brac, and more.
Saint Ambrose Day is immediately followed by the Immaculate Conception Day (an Italian national holiday), also considered by many Italians the true beginning of the Christmas season and the day to start decorating the house and especially preparing the Christmas tree.
Here all the traditional and modern appointments of the Milanese Christmas period:
Oh Bej! Oh Bej! (Around the Sforzesco Castle): 7 to 10 December 2016
Christmas market (Piazza Duomo): from 6 December 2016 to 6 January 2017, under the 28 meter Christmas tree, enjoy the Christmas market gazebo.
L’Artigiano in Fiera (Rho Fiera): from 3 to 11 December 2016, every day, from 10.00 to 22.30, International Handicrafts Fair with free admission
Green Christmas (Napoleonic Foundry – Isola district): 17 and 18 December 2016, Christmas market with style of natural and ecological life.
Babbo Running (starting from via Palestro): December 10, 2016 at 15:00, Non-competitive walk, 5 km, with Santa Claus beard and costume, for a day of Christmas joy, fun and solidarity.
Darsena Christmas Village (Darsena): from 7 December 2016 to 8 January 2017, a tree of 12 meters, Santa’s floating sleigh and Santa’s house, a market with wooden chalets.
Alter Bej Association ““Altrimenti” (Bussa flyover – Isola district)
Christmas market (Piazza Portello)
Waiting for Christmas (Piazza Baracca)
Market Xmas Edition (Piazza Diaz / Via Marconi)
Skating rink (via Vittorio Pisani and indoor in Gaia Aulenti)
The Village of Wonders (Corso Venezia, Indro Montanelli): from December 3, 2016 al January 8, 2017