Thinking to describe Christmas in Italy in one way only, would mean overestimate my ( I think not excelled ) writing skills, but nothing can stop me from telling you some different points of view about this lovely feast day.
Cultures and habits in Italy
In my first sentence I just said that it is really difficult to unite all our traditions and customs in Italy on Christmas time, but why? Because the best thing of our country is that from the North to the South, from the East to the West we have completely different cultures, habits and uses and every day I learn more and more about my “creative” nation.
Coming back to Christmas, the first huge choice people have to take in Italy on the 8th of December is: do I buy a Christmas tree or a do I set a nativity scene in my living room? The oldest tradition (of medieval origin) is represented by the nativity scene, which was later joined by the use of Christmas trees. The tradition of the nativity scene outdoors is even spread throughout the Italian peninsula. Similarly, (even) the symbolic figures who bring Christmas gifts are not always the same: there are Santa Claus, Jesus, Saint Lucia (martyr of the IV century), each region has its own particular beliefs!
In any case, either in the South or in the North, on the 24th of December (our “Vigilia”) and on the 25th of December people stay at home where all the celebrations take place: it’s a great opportunity for all (the) families to spend (a) time (all) together, to eat (some) delicious home-made food and to share happiness and good feelings. Also on the 26th of December, our “Santo Stefano”, is very often celebrated.
And the food? Exactly that Italian food which people from all over the World desire and demand so frequently?
Well my readers… it’s amazing !!! I could make a list (long as our paper, used for our filters production) of all our traditional dishes, but then I think MANN+HUMMEL blog should change the name in something similar to “ cooking and flavors”. But anyway, just a couple of courses…
Antipasti are normally based on fish: sword fish, tuna fish, or fresh salmon carpaccio, seafood or octopus salad. In the North it is very common to prepare roast stuffed ravioli , agnolotti filled with ricotta and spinach, tortellini, different versions of risotto (rice with local cheese, with vegetables, with sausages) and for the “second course” guinea-fowl, veal with tuna sauce, orata and branzino (some fishes).
In the South we can find lasagne, tagliatelle, pasta with shrimps, seafood dishes, capitone (Anguilla) but also some meat: lamb and goat for example. The originality of some traditions can reach the extreme sometimes: the cialson prepared in Friuli, is made with ravioli filled with ricotta, raisins and/or dried figs, spinach, chocolate and candied citron! Here in Piemonte we offer our “bagna cauda” (a sort of fondue, made with garlic, anchovies, olive, oil, butter) in which people dunk vegetables. In some parts of Sicily, we prepare involtini (roulade) of swordfish made with breadcrumbs, orange juice, pinoli, dried raisins, tarragon, ginger, garlic, parsley and basil. In the end, for dessert all Italians agree on serving Panettone! These dishes are an example of how Italian cuisine is regional and local.
Christmas in MANN+HUMMEL Italy
In Turin, where we have our small office (22 employees in total), Christmas arrives earlier with our “festival of lights”. Indeed, during November and December, many squares and streets of the city center are covered with lights, designed by contemporary artists (Vasco Are, Francesco Casorati, Enrico De Paris, Richi Ferrero, Carmelo Giammello, Emanuele Luzzati, Luigi Mainolfi, Mario Molinari, Luigi Nervo, Giulio Paolini, Luigi Stoisa, Francesco Tabusso).
The lights, are appreciated for the high scenic value and for the strongly symbolic and conceptual ideals.
So… thanks for your patience while reading and have a nice Christmas !!!