Christmas is a major holiday in Italy, which means Italians celebrate lots of great, unique Christmas traditions! Across Italy, Natale tends to be a family-centric holiday, a time to stay at home (and eat!) with loved ones. But customs also vary from city to city, from exactly which dishes are served, to when to open presents, making every region an interesting place to enjoy the holidays. Decorations and huge Christmas trees can be found in main piazzas, like in front of the Colosseum or in Milan’s Piazza Duomo, and Babbo Natale (Father Christmas, the Italian version of Santa Claus) spreads holiday cheer. The most popular tradition is probably the lighting of the tree in the Vatican... so beautiful it is hard to put into words! An other Christmas tradition in Italy is the Market, popular both with the locals and visitors from Europe and the UK. Smaller and more intimate than the famous German markets, Italy’s ‘Mercatino di Natale’ offer a more intimate and traditional Christmas experience. Italy’s Mercatino di Natale run during the advent period and some remain open right through to Epiphany. Christmas in Italy is traditionally celebrated from Christmas Eve until January 6th – the day set aside in folklore to give presents to children in celebration of the good witch, La Befana. Many feature elaborate nativity scenes made by local craftsmen at their heart, while hosting stalls offering regional seasonal food and drink, as well as locally made products and gift items.
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