Italian Christmas Food and Drink
Catholic Italians celebrate Christmas as a “day of abstinence", on Christmas Eve the family eats a meatless dinner that traditionally it followed by a living nativity scene and midnight mass. In some parts of southern Italy on Christmas Eve is served a seven fishes dinner known as the Feast of the Seven Fishes or La Vagilia. The most significant meal of the Christmas Day is the lunch or il pranzo. In the northern Italy dishes such as:
The "Saturnalia", the greatest feast of the ancient Roman Empire coincide with the Christmas celebrations of the Advent, is for this reason that not only celebrates the birth of Christ but also the birth of the "Unconquered Sun" . The meaning of "Natale" is "Birthday" in English. Officially, the Italian Christmas celebrations start on 8th December with the L'Immacolata Concezione or the Immaculate Conception’s Day and lasts until January 6th. The "Novena” starts on 17th December and during this time the children go home by home reciting Christmas passages.
Actually, Italian children write letters to Santa Claus or Babbo Natale (Father Christmas) asking for presents, but traditionally in Italy the main day for gift giving is Epiphany, these presents are brought by La Befana, a kindly old witch who fill children's stockings in the night with sweets or i dolciumi if they have been good or with coal or il carbone if they have been bad. Santa Lucia is who brings the gifts in Venice and Mantova while in other places is the Baby Jesus or Gesu' Bambino who brings the presents. The children also write to their parent to let know how much they love them, this letter is placed under their father's plate who read it at the end of the Christmas Eve dinner.
Among the traditions, customs and other rituals typical of Christmas season are:
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