Christmas in Italy – Unique nativity scenes, delicious food and craftsmanship

A time when we can finally relax, be with our families, and enjoy the presence of each other in a magical Christmas atmosphere. The traditions differ from country to country, and Italy is no exception. A long tradition of craftsmanship, Christmas food, and hand-made nativity scenes are just a few examples that we would like to introduce to you in more detail. Let’s begin!

Presepe, which is an Italian word for a nativity scene, is the symbol of Christmas in Italy. While for many countries the typical decoration is Christmas tree, traditionally, in Italy, the main decoration is a nativity scene. Starting on the 8th of December which is a public holiday in Italy marking the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, Italian families set their nativity scenes. And just like you can decorate a Christmas tree, every family can have a collection of different pieces that make their presepe unique. Moreover, the presepi are found all over the country and while all of them are unique in their story and beauty, we picked one, that is ‘living’.

The living nativity scene in Custonaci, Sicily

It is one of the most popular events in the southern Italy with the representation of the Nativity in the town of Custonaci, located near Trapani  in the western part of the island. What makes this nativity scene unique is the fact that its performed in a prehistoric cave and consists of different characters, many of them real local artisans from the area, who bring to life the role of peasant craftsmen who represented the local agricultural and pastoral traditions back in time. This event is considered as the biggest event of valorization and of crafts and popular Sicilian traditions, bringing to life the oldest traditions of the area.

Struffoli, Campania

Sweets are an important part of Christmas food, and every Italian region has its traditional recipe. We picked one of the traditional sweets typical for the Neapolitan pastry tradition, which is called struffoli. Struffoli are sweet balls of fried dough with honey and multicolored confetti on top. The original ingredients to follow the original recipe are only a few and very basic: flour, eggs, sugar, butter, and aromatic aniseed liqueur.


Craftsmanship traditions

Another Christmas activity is to visit a traditional market full of craftsmanship traditions. The Christmas market in Trento is another example of a place to visit to get the right Christmas atmosphere. Walking in its little streets formed by Christmas stalls, you will be able to admire the local handicraft, and numerous gift ideas together with typical Trentino sweets and traditional food. Trento is also known as “Christmas Town” (Città del Natale) for its unique beauty, lights, and a Christmas time full of events for families. This market is organized following sustainable measures, and all the policies make this event green, local, and environment friendly.

The Artist’s Lights in Salerno

To complete the Italian Christmas experience, The Artist’s Lights is a famous event in Salerno, southern Italy. Every year the city of Salerno organizes an event where the artists exhibit their light creations and illuminate the city of Salerno. This Christmas event returns to Salerno from 2 December 2022 until 29 January 2023. Every day starting at 5:00 pm, the main street, the municipal park, and the numerous squares will light up with magnificent Christmas lights.

Do you want to know more about the Christmas traditions, typical food, and sweets in Italy? Follow us on Instagram and Facebook and don’t miss our Christmas stories.
Find more inspiration for your Italian vacation here.

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