Few celebrations are as robust and immense as the Italian celebration of Christmas. Not only does the holiday have rich and historical connections to Italian culture, but its influence also remains potent even through the changes and challenges of modern society. Even if you’re not Italian by blood, or in Italy for the holiday, there are many traditions to be shared and enjoyed together, many of which passed down from generation to generation. In today’s blog, we’ll be taking a look at Italian Christmas traditions that remain influential in the culture. If that sounds interesting, keep reading below!
Celebration Beyond Christmas Day
Italians are known to celebrate Christmas for a longer duration than other cultures. In fact, most would point to December 8th as the official start date of the holiday season in Italy, given that the historic Feast of The Immaculate Conception takes place on that day. Also, unlike many western cultures, the Christmas celebration does not end with the event of New Year’s. Instead, it goes until January 6th, when the 12th day of Christmas, also known as the Epiphany, takes place. If you ever plan a trip to visit Italy in the bulk of December, you can expect to see all manner of festive lights, decor, and other seasonal displays.
Midnight Mass & Vatican Celebrations
It’s a fact that many Christians around the world, whether Italian or not, partake in midnight mass on Christmas Eve. At the Vatican, arguably the epicenter of the Christian faith, midnight mass is truly something to behold, boasting a massive Christmas tree and nativity scene in the heart of Saint Peter’s Square. Though the late Christmas Eve service starts at 9:30 PM, it’s relatively easy to access, as it is both televised worldwide and free to attend. Particularly for Italians in the city limits of Rome, few places are as alive with festivity and celebration as the Vatican.
Abstaining From Meat on Christmas Eve
One of the longest-standing Italian traditions, it’s very common for Italians to opt for seafood dishes on Christmas Eve instead of those with agrarian meat. The reason for this is rooted in the Christian faith, as avoiding meat before celebrations are seen as a way to purify and cleanse your body before the festivities officially begin. There is no exception here when it comes to celebrating Christmas.
Want to Celebrate the Holidays With Italian Cuisine?
Nico has you covered! Located in Boston’s historic North End, there’s no doubt either our dinner menu, cocktail list, or wine list will keep you satisfied this holiday season. Give us a call at to make a reservation – we hope to see you here!