Published: 19-10-2012, 07:33

Christmas in Italy: Pre-Christmas Celebrations and Observances

Christmas in Italy

Christmas in Italy: Christmas Markets

Christmas in Italy: Nativity Scenes and Ceppos

Christmas in Italy: Christmas Eve

Christmas in Italy: Christmas Day

Christmas in Italy: New Year

Christmas in Italy: Epiphany

Along Italy’s Adriatic coast many people celebrate St. Nicholas’s Day on December 6. Religious processions are held and adults give sweets to children. The remains of this fourth-century saint now rest in the cathedral in Bari, Italy (see also St. Nicholas).

Sicilians celebrate St. Lucy’s Day on December 13. Children leave their shoes outdoors hoping that the saint will fill them with treats during the night.

In some Italian cities, such as Rome, the unlikely sound of bagpipes announces that Christmas is near. Following an old custom, shepherds from the surrounding mountainous areas visit the cities with their bagpipes around mid-December. Called zampognari, they make music in the markets, in front of churches, and alongside Nativity scenes. In the past they would sometimes go door to door, playing in front of the family’s Nativity scene in exchange for tips.

Between December 16 and December 24 many Italians participate in Christmas novenas, special prayer services held on nine consecutive days. The novenas end with Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.