Christmastime thoughts ~ Romancing Italy

Dec 13, 2008

Christmastime thoughts

America and Italy are different in so many ways and it is for this very reason that Italy appeals to me and frustrates me at the same time. It depends on my frame of mind at the moment.

Christmas is one of those times when I love/hate it here.

I already complained about not hearing enough Christmas carols, even at the Boca Christmas market.

Now I wonder why people have Christmas trees on their balcony instead of inside their house. I personally like to sit, with a glass of wine or even better with a spiked Christmas drink, and stare at the lights and the sparkling ornaments. It's magical and dreamy. My friends and I have traditionally spent a day getting the tree itself. We'd drive to a forest, get a permit for a tree and hike around looking for the right size, shape, type and then cut it down ourselves. After all that work, you can bet your bottom dollar I want to look at that tree!

This year I was given a pair of knitted socks with padding underneath in celebration of St. Lucia's day. I had no idea. In Italy on the 13th of December, St. Lucia's day is celebrated with the youngest daughter in the household donning a crown of candles and waking everyone with hot buns. My mind just cannot stop thinking of a little four year old teeter-tottering up uneven stairs in an old italian home with a head of blazing candles. Perhaps, not so much now in this day and age of battery operated candles, but I am sure in a traditional country like Italy, there must be mothers freaking out every December 13.

I am more familiar with the celebration of January 6, even in the States. This day is the 12th day of Christmas also known as the day of the three wise men and also Epiphany. In the States, I've been to a home where family and friends were invited over for the blessing of the house. In Italy, I was at home when the evening was briefly interrupted when the local priest made his rounds to each home to make the blessing. He arrived with his young helper and a doll representing baby Jesus. We placed the doll in each room while the priest blessed.

It is also on this day that Italians exchange stuffed stockings, while we finish it all in one swoop in December. They know how to extend a good thing, don't they...

For more tidbits click on Italian Christmas traditions

Whatever the reason for the celebration, St Lucia, Christmas Day, Epiphany, I think it's just a good reason to be together with people you love. It is precious time well spent.


  1. Gorgeous photo! I hear you on loving and being frustrated with Christmas in's just so *different* here. Yes, less commercialization is a bonus, but sometimes it leaves things just a bit...bland for the holidays. Not in my house though! ;)

  2. Totally hear ya on the frustration here in Italy! We have our tree inside, thankfully we have the space for it. Some of my students have said they do not put up a tree due to lack of space in their apartments. My opinion, the "Christmas Spirit" is just different here. Weird different. Hard to put into words.

  3. Thanks Michelle, the mantle had to take the place of the tree. Next year I will have all my Christmas stuff with me and YES, I will have Christmas as "usual".

    Good to hear from you Ann. Well, of course I didn't think of the space issue. A tree outside is better than no tree at all...maybe. You are right though, it is definitely different here.

  4. Strangely, St Lucia is also celebrated in Sweden! I never bothered to work out why this very Italian tradition is celebrated here, but it's now very much a part of Swedish culture.

  5. Hi I am wondering "Is it an Italian tradition celebrated also in Sweden or a Swedish tradition, also celebrated in Italy?"

  6. St. Lucia is huge in Sweden. When I worked at IKEA many years ago, we had a St. Lucia procession in the store in Philadelphia -- lights out, candles lit -- and we invited all the children of Swedish decent and our employees kids to walk in the procession and sing. Bev, I believe it is an Italian tradition, celebrated in Sweden.

  7. Thanks Diana, one never knows in Europe who initiated and who absorbed and I appreciate the info. I have to admit that I love many of the traditions here.

  8. I love living in a country where Christmas is not very commercial (Argentina). In fact I keep forgetting Christmas is just a few days away. This year we
    are spending
    it at the beach.

  9. Now that I am around snow and it's cold at Christmas, it seems weird to be on the beach on a summer's day for Christmas. When I was a kid, we lived in a tropical climate so it was normal - I've just forgotten life like that.


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