Christmas is coming… It’s time to enter this joyful moment of the year, during which everything is lightened and colorful.
And yet I really want all of you who are planning to visit Italy this time of the year to be ready, so let me just introduce the topic, would you? There is something very important to keep in mind when talking about Christmas Italian traditions: there is not such a thing as a single tradition! This is the very first thing to know when talking about Christmas in Italy! If you don’t trust me, you can ask about it to any of our tour guides along our Food Tours, they’ll surely confirm!
As for many other things, food is a profound marker of Italy’s regional differences. In our country, every single region is proudly rich of its own local culture. One example? Panettone can be bought in any supermarket in Italy, but it is originally baked in the North! There will be no Southern nonna baking it at home!
The same thing goes for tortellini, which are a tradition of Central Italy, usually homemade for big occasions. During Christmas time, tortellini are prepared in brodo, (in broth) and are served on Christmas day, and might be followed by bollito misto (a mix of boiled meat with special sauces and pickles).
Less famous are the Southern Italy Christmas traditions: in Rome and Neaples for example capitone is a must (even said anguilla in Italian, eel in English). This tradition most probably comes from Neaples, which lays by the sea and make therefore fish available quite easily. Some tried to associate it symbolically to a way of “eating” the devil, since the sneak-like shape of eel. Anyhow, the most traditional families buy the capitone on the 23rd, still alive, to cook it on the 24th. Indeed Capitone is eaten on Christmas eve, since it is a well-known rule widespread all around the country that it is better to eat fish on this day.
Also typical of most of the Southern regions (Campania, Pulia, Calabria) are the zeppole (also called struffoli in some areas). This dessert is as simple as delicious: it is basically fried sweet bread dough. As easy it may sound, it represents a basic and yet strictly present part of the Christmas eve table. The Southern you go along the boot-shaped country, the wider the variety of sweets gets! Usually, a selection of fruits, both dried and fresh, are offered too (with a copious assortment of nuts). Better to keep it in mind if you ever happen to be invited to an Italian Christmas table, so that you can keep some appetite for the last course!
There are many other traditional Italian Christmas dishes! Don’t be shy, be curious and ask more during our Food Tours! Stay tuned for some luscious r