Our Italian Kitchen Table

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Christmas in Italy

For two countries that celebrate the same religious holiday, it’s fascinating how different the festivities can be. We thought we’d share with you some of the comparisons between English and Italian Christmas.

Not only do Italy and England celebrate differently, but individual regions across Italy do too. Christmas is known as Natale and one of the most beloved holidays in the country. Typically, festivities kick off on the 24th and run through until early January. The kitchen is the heart of the holiday, where families come together to help prepare the feast across three days (Christmas Eve through to Boxing Day).

Christmas Eve Dinner is considered the more traditional in Italy. Usually a light meal involving tonno or salmone is eaten before Midnight Mass.  On returning home, a slice of panettone and other dessrts are enjoyed with a mug of hot chocolate. Christmas Eve is a great day for children as they are allowed to open gifts! 

Christmas Day lunch is enjoyed over a longer period of time. Many diners are usually present as a big family occasion enjoying a selection of regional foods. The meal will begin with cuts of cured meat and cheeses, followed by a main such as Pasta al forno as common in the southern regions. Secondi will then be served, de rigueur, which usually takes the form of roasted chicken with potatoes. Another festive recipe is tortellini in brodo, a winter warmer dish enjoyed in the colder season.

On Boxing Day, Santo Stefano’s Lunch is a common meal to share with family involving a selection of antipasti. The 6th of January is Epiphany when children are yet again given gifts from the family.

Christmas is a global celebration, but nowhere celebrates like Italy!

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