Interesting Italian Customs And Traditions
The eccentric European “boot” has it all – popes, artists, lovers, poets, world-famous rulers, architecture and historical landmarks – you name it. Its lovely light and sumptuous landscapes inspire romance, and its 3,000-year history, culture and national cuisine will seduce anyone who ever experiences them.
While Italy is a land of great history, culture and romance, it is also well-known for interesting Italian customs and traditions. Here is a short list of the ones that we think you will find most interesting.
“Burning the castle” in Montichiari, Lombardy
In this Italian tradition, typically during the month of May, the people of Montichiari pay homage to San Pancrazio, the patron saint of the city. The culmination of the festivities, which usually last about ten days, is a pyrotechnic (i.e. fireworks) spectacle, recreating the historic burning of the local castle. The “burning of the castle” starts with a procession, which everybody may join as long as they are dressed in historically appropriate attire.
Christmas customs and traditions
Italian Christmas traditions vary in different parts of the country, but they always start on the 6th of December, when children are told that St Nicholas is leaving them gifts in secrecy.
On the 13th of December, there are more presents. These come from St. Luchia of Syracuse—a defender of the poor—but this time only the “good” children get them. Then, on the 23rd of December, children dress in shepherd’s clothes and go around the neighbourhood, singing traditional Christmas carols after which they are presented with sweets and coins by the townspeople.
On Christmas Eve, the beginning of the Christmas holidays is marked with gunfire from the Castle Saint Angelo in Rome. Most families organize a kind of a lottery at home, in which everybody gets small gifts. The celebration lasts for a few hours and ends with a midnight mass. The figure of Christ is placed in the crib (or manger) on the night of 24th of December then, on Christmas morning, all members of the family exchange presents and celebrate the birth of Christ.
The centre of Christmas decorations is considered to be the crib (or manger), used to recreate the birth of Jesus, however weeks before Christmas people decorate their homes with garlands, angels, coloured glass, crystal balls and, of course, a Christmas tree.
On the 6th of January, Italian children traditionally receive gifts once again. It is believed the old witch Befana flies from house to house on her broom, entering through the chimney, looking for Jesus and leaving presents in children’s socks. Naughty children get only a piece of charcoal, made of chocolate, in their socks. This legend is believed to be associated with the gifts that the Three Kings brought to the newborn Jesus. The story tells that the old witch left too late to bring some gifts for the baby and now is doomed to wander around looking for him everywhere.
Easter customs and traditions
In many Italian villages there is a tradition of recreating the sufferings of Jesus Christ on his way to Golgotha for his crucifixion. There are Easter processions, and the markets sell huge chocolate eggs filled with small surprises, and wrapped in bright glossy paper. One of the traditional local specialties for Easter is a cake in the shape of a dove, called “Colomba Pasquale”.
Author Bio: Jack Sheamus is a passionate freelance blogger and traveller. He loves to travel…especially to Italy. He currently works as a leader of Cleaners NW1 and really enjoys his work because it gives him enough free time to travel.