How do you celebrate Christmas in italy? Here's our tips | ELLCI

How is Christmas celebrated in Italy?

How is Christmas celebrated in Italy?

Christmas is a special time for many Italians. As we now well know, each Italian region or area respects different traditions. There are those, for example, who celebrate Saint Lucia on December 13th and those who “there is no Christmas without Christmas Eve”. Also some people prefer, on the other hand, the lunch on the 25th or that of Santo Stefano on the 26th.

Santa Lucia

It is celebrated on December 13th, an important day in Lombardy, especially in Milan and the Bergamo area. This Santa, protector of sight, arrives on the back of a donkey and brings the children gifts a little before Christmas. What a joy! Traditionally, on this day sweets in the shape of eyes are prepared, to ward off eye diseases. A popular saying also defines Santa Lucia as “the shortest day there is”. Nice, right?

Christmas Eve

The night before the 25th, many families gather to dine together and exchange gifts at midnight. There are those waiting for Santa Claus (or baby Jesus) who will ring the door and leave the gifts without being seen or those who decide to attend Holy Mass.

The latter custom can be followed by a glass of mulled wine (vin brulé) in the church square and the traditional Christmas music of the bagpipers. Many people also gather after dinner in the bars open late to exchange greetings and gifts.

Foto di una ciaramella (ragazzo a sinistra) e di una zampogna (ragazzo a destra).

Christmas lunch

On this day we don’t get up very much from the table, a rule that applies only to those who are not addicted to cooking. Between roasts, potatoes, lasagna, fish, dried fruit, clementines and many other delights, you feast until very late, with the intention of leaving the house probably only the next day, rolling (burp!).

We unpack the packages still wrapped, look at the lights of the Christmas tree, put the statuette of Jesus – who is now born – in his bed, in the nativity scene, and why not, play some board games or at the inevitable Tombola. Have you ever heard about it? It is a traditional game invented in Naples in the 18th century, a kind of domestic bingo. We will tackle this topic better in our next article on Christmas words!

The day of Santo Stefano

It is a holiday of the Catholic Church and some Orthodox Churches. St. Stephen was the first martyr in Christian history and it is precisely for this reason that it is celebrated the day after the birth of Jesus. The Church, however, has never asked to celebrate this day with particular commemorations, in fact until 1947 it was a normal working day. The pure truth is that we want to extend the Christmas holidays a little and we thank … whoever grants us this grace. In ordinary times, Christmas leftovers are finished on this day and, if possible, you can visit a city of art or go to the cinema. This year there will be just sweets and the sofa, for many of us.

 The Christmas period officially ends in January, the day of the Epiphany which, in fact, we say that takes away all the holidays (in Italian it rhymes like this: l’Epifania tutte le feste porta via). We will talk about it extensively in the next articles, keep following us! And in the meantime…

Here’s some tips to spend your Christmas holidays in Italy

This year is a bit strange and we can barely recommend the wonderful Christmas markets that are traditionally set up in every city of Italy. However, we can certainly offer you some things that are done regardless in Italy, without risking crowds or ruining the pandemic magic of this end of 2020. Here is a list of experiences not to be missed:

Play Tombola


Observe time-lapse videos of Christmas trees in Italy


Drink hot chocolate with cream


Watch a Cinepanettone! (a Christmas movie, usually comic.)

Find a way to play with the Christmas tree or sleep under

And finally, of course …

Binge on panettone, pandoro with (a little bit of) sparkling wine


And you? Let us know with celebrate Christmas:

and if we don’t see you sooner, happy Christmas!