What’s Christmas like in Italy? Well, some traditions are the same and some are very different. We’ll take through our experience with this amazing season in Italy.

Topics we cover

  • Paul’s memories of his family drinking Manhattans in Boston
  • The Italians start celebrating the season on Saint Nicolas day in early December
  • The fact that Saint Nicolas is actually buried here in Bari
  • How the kids get gifts on Saint Nicolas day, Christmas day and on the Epiphany
  • How kids put their shoes out during Saint Nicolas day to get presents
  • How everyone makes their own homemade nativity scene every year with bark, moss, twigs and more
  • A moving nativity in Terlizzi that as 40 moving parts that move 1000 pieces
  • Steven’s childhood memory of a children’s book that explained how he got into home that didn’t have fireplaces. We are still looking for the name of this book, but this one does mention fairies traveling with Santa to help him get into homes: The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus
  • How old Steven was when he stopped believing and what kept Steven believing for a long time
  • The tradition of the Bafana for the Epiphany. She is an old woman who delivers gifts to children throughout Italy on Epiphany Eve (the night of January 5) in a similar way to St Nicholas or Santa Claus, also delivering a a lump of coal if they are bad. A popular belief is that her name derives from the Feast of Epiphany or in Italian La Festa dell’Epifania. Epiphania. In popular folklore Befana visits all the children of Italy on the eve of the Feast of the Epiphany to fill their stockings with candy and presents if they are good. Or a lump of coal or dark candy if they are bad. She is usually portrayed as an old lady riding a broomstick through the air wearing a black shawl and is covered in soot because she enters the children’s houses through the chimney (again, like another guy we know).
  • Why we believe we have the song The Twelve Days of Christmas
  • How the wise mean were zoroastrians
  • The traditional Panatone (here’s an image and recipe if you feel so inclined, we have NOT tried this recipe, you’ll understand why from the episode)
  • Vincotto (or dried fig molasses)
  • Calzoncelli cookies, Cartellate and Susamielli
  • Feast of the Seven Fishes
  • How the Bari area likes raw fish more
  • The eel the locals eat here on Christmas Eve
  • Paul’s memory of his Aunt cleaning eels in Boston
  • Paul believes most people don’t take down their Christmas decorations until after the Epiphany in America, Steven thinks they come down as soon as December 25th is over. What do you think?
  • How you can leave us voice mail (check out the banner to the right)

Any traditions we missed? What does your family do to celebrate? Let us know.


Some pictures of Christmas from years past in Italy and the Villa.

Cartellate Cookies with Vincotto
Cartellate Cookies with Vincotto
The wine cellar decorated for a Christmas party at Villa Cappelli.
The wine cellar decorated for a Christmas party at Villa Cappelli.
A close up of a homemade nativity.
A close up of a homemade nativity.
Some nativity actors.
Some nativity actors.
Orso looking out at the snow at Villa Cappelli.
Orso looking out at the snow at Villa Cappelli.
Wreaths caught in the snow storm of 2014.
Wreaths caught in the snow storm of 2014.
Calzoncelli, one of Paul's favorites.
Calzoncelli, one of Paul’s favorites.


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