Here’s to a million wishes for a very Merry Christmas to all of you! Thanks for taking the time to read any and all of my meandering thoughts on whatever pops into my head about Italy! I hope that you all enjoy the magic of Christmas with your family and friends! Have a slice of panettone and a sip of Asti for that little taste of an Italian Christmas tradition!
It’s that time, once again, for the nostalgic thoughts that this Christmas season brings to mind. I am reminded of so many Christmas traditions which I grew up with, but also new ones that I have now made into traditions. It seems that every generation adds something new to their Christmas.
Here are some old Italian traditions passed down from my parents:
My presepe (the Creche):
Panettone – the traditional Italian Christmas bread which is enjoyed with a cup of coffee or even better, with a glass of Asti Spumante or Champagne:
And, of course, the Christmas tree and all the house decorations:
A new tradition that makes up our family’s Christmas is spending a night in San Francisco to take in the vibrant Holiday scene and decorations.
Union Square – San Francisco
The Hyatt Regency – San Francisco
The Palace Hotel – San Francisco
Another of the new traditions that I have made my own is the formal Christmas Eve dinner. As a child, we always celebrated Christmas Day and never Christmas Eve. This made for a very busy Christmas Day: present opening in the morning, rushing off to Mass, and then going to my aunt’s house for the big dinner. This is how it was done in Northern Italy where my family is from and so they carried on the tradition when they came here. But when I got married, my husband’s family always celebrated Christmas Eve with a formal dinner followed by Midnight Mass. I loved this tradition and so have made it my own. I love the look of the elegant table lit by candles and with the glow of the Christmas tree in the background. As families come together from different backgrounds, the best of the best becomes part of the Christmas traditions to be passed down to the next generation. I’ll be anxious to see what becomes their new Christmas traditons!
Buon Natale, my dear readers, and may this Holiday season bring you all the magic of Christmas!
Merry Christmas to all my dear readers. May the joy and laughter of Christmas fill your hearts and your lives during this Holiday season…and throughout the New Year. I can never have enough words to express my gratitude to each one of you for your support and encouragement. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!! Mille grazie a voi tutti!!!
I want to share a beautiful Christmas song, sung by the talented Roberta Bonanno…A Natale Puoi…
Pope Benedict XVI has the distinct honor of lighting the largest Christmas tree in the world tonight in Gubbio, Italy. It has over 1000 lights, and it is over 2,000 feet tall! It isn’t an actual tree, but a tree design draped over Mt. Ingino overlooking the medieval town. The tree is a symbol of “universal peace and brotherhood among people” all over the world.
But, the Pope won’t actually be present in Gubbio…he is lighting the tree remotely from his Vatican suite with a tablet computer! And this is where the confusion lies – it was first mentioned that he would be using an Apple iPad, but now reports claim he is using the Sony tablet.
(Pope Benedict) will touch the screen of a Sony “Tablet” with an “Android” operating system which, via the Internet, will transmit the command to switch on the electric current to the tree.
~from Vatican Information News.
Why the switch? It’s a papal mystery!
The device used really is not important as long as it does the trick. The display will be gorgeous and the message of peace clearly displayed.
There is nothing more magical than being transported into a Christmas wonderland resplendent with illuminations! Dark spaces lit up with the brilliant glow of twinkling lights instantly puts me in that Christmas mood.
A few years ago, we spent Capo d’Anno (New Year’s) in Milan and were treated to the beautiful Swarovski crystal light display in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. The bright blue lights shimmered up in the dome of the Galleria and they could be seen from outside the entrata (entrance), leading you in with the anticipation of a wondrous delight.
It was a beautiful display, only to be outdone, I think, by this year’s very special exhibition called “Una Amore di Citta`”. A spiral of pulsating cuori (hearts) in Swarovski’s signature design will cascade from the dome of the Galleria from Dec. 4th until Jan. 6th.
Sadly, I will only be able to enjoy this spettacolo (spectacle) via internet, but….
San Francisco has it’s own magical twinkling displays. They may not be of Swarovski crystals, but they are, nonetheless, just as meravigliosi (marvelous)! I was mesmerized by their bellezza (beauty) this last weekend while visiting the City for its Christmas magia (magic). The lobby of the modern Hyatt Regency Hotel at the Embarcadero was decorated in a cascata (cascade) of tiny white lights which fell from the top floor. It was as if being in the midst of the cieli (heavens), with all the stelle (stars) shining all around me.
If you have seen any magical Christmas light displays, please share them with me!
I love to hear stories of my parents’ childhoods spent in Italy – their experiences are always so simple, but yet so full of joy even in the face of world crisis. Ones that I cherish the most are those that surround Natale (Christmas). In a world so caught up with the material aspect of Christmas, it is heartwarming to reminisce about the true meaning of Christmas and to relish in the mere simplicity of the season. Even though my parents’ childhood was during World War II, and they suffered from lack of food and money, they still have such fond memories of their Christmas traditions. My mom recalls those Christmases when they did not have a tree, but instead had il presepe (the manger) for the Baby Jesus. Their figurines were all made out of cardboard, but yet they took the time to set up the scene as they thought best to honor the new baby Lord. They would forage in the woods for fresh muschio (moss) to lay over the roof of the cardboard stable, and they would search for berries and other small plant material to decorate the scene. If and when a present would come, it would always be from il Gesu` Bambino (the Baby Jesus), and they would treasure it because they knew it was special. On those special years when they did have a Christmas tree, the ornaments consisted of mandarini (tangerines)! Can you imagine how good their house must have smelled? Fresh citrus mixed with the smell of pine!
Meals at Christmas time were traditional as well. On La Vigilia (Christmas Eve), they always had a fish meal…and then after midnight Mass, they would come home to some brodo (broth) to warm their bones! On these nights, they didn’t get to bed until very late…but they didn’t have to wake up early for any present opening marathons – they were fortunate if the Gesu` Bambino had left just one present. But they didn’t seem to mind – they were happy just with the feeling of the special day surrounded by their family and friends. Wouldn’t it be nice to just be able to have that simplicity again, instead of feeling stressed over getting the right gift for everyone on your Christmas list, and rushing around with all the crazy mobs in the stores and on the streets? If we just stopped to realize that Christmas isn’t about how many presents are under the tree, but instead about sharing the love of family and friends and savoring in the realization that you don’t need the material objects to feel the true meaning of Christmas.
Buon Natale, cari amici del blog, e spero che lo spirito della stagione vi riempie di gioia.
Merry Christmas, dear blogging friends, and I hope that the spirit of the season fills you with joy.