Christmas in Italian: Buon Natale!

Like every year, in our last blog post of the year, we’d like to take this time to address the topic of Christmas. This time we decided to give you a little information about Italian Christmas traditions. Enjoy the article!

Christmas is very important in Catholic Italy, which is why it’s celebrated extensively there. Family and good food play an especially important role during the holiday, but Italy also has a few other distinctive Christmassy customs.

Italians celebrate over and over

[Pre-]Christmas time is rung in as early as December 6 – for Santa Nicola [Saint Nicholas Day]. Children and adults are given small gifts on this day. The next little Christmassy holiday, Santa Lucia, takes place on December 13. This day is dedicated to the poor, which is why people give them gifts and donate generously in general.

The “actual” Christmas celebration is held on December 24 and 25. It’s commenced by gunshots fired off at the Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome on December 24. On top of eating with family and visiting fairs, participating in a raffle is also a big part of the Italian Christmas tradition.

The birth of Jesus is finally celebrated on December 25. This celebration involves giving gifts and eating a big Christmas meal with the whole family. It’s not uncommon for this meal to be spread out over several courses. Popular appetizers include vegetable soup, pasta salad and ravioli. Chicken or lamb with vegetables tend to be served as the main cross-cultural training, Italy, cross-cultural training Italy, Christmascourse, while traditional desserts include panettone – a sweet Milanese cake [see photo].

The last holiday – La Befana – arrives on January 6. It involves more gift-giving for children, but instead of Santa Claus doing the giving, it’s his wife, the witch La Befana. She goes from house to house looking for the infant Jesus and leaving small gifts such as sweets for children. Another fascinating peculiarity about Italy is that Christmas trees are not that common. A crib, representing the birth of Jesus, can be found in nearly every Italian household instead.

Best wishes for you and your family

As you can see, things in Italy can be a little different. But please keep in mind that Christmas traditions can vary wildly depending on the region and the family.

With this last blog post, we’d like to bid you farewell for this year. Our sincere thanks go out to all the readers who followed us throughout the year. The entire team at Eidam & Partner wishes you, your colleagues and your families a Buon Natale, restful holidays and health and success for the coming year. You can look forward to more exciting articles on the topics of culture and business in 2019.


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About Sophie Humpisch

I studied business communication and cross-cultural competence. During my studies I lived abroad for a long time and therefore experienced cross-cultural differences on my own. I have been with Eidam & Partner since 2014, being responsible for the support and recruiting of cross-cultural experts. Eidam & Partner offers worldwide services related to cross-cultural communication, such as cross-cultural training, cross-cultural coaching, eLearning and preparation for international assignments for more than 80 target countries.
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