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!
A casa mia (at my house), it just isn’t Christmas without the obligatory panettone! Growing up, we could only get this special treat at Italian markets, where it was flown in especially for the Holidays. Today, thankfully, it can be found almost anywhere.
Panettone originated in Milan, but quickly became a Holiday staple throughout Italy and Latin America. A legend has it that during the 15th century, a nobleman si innamoro` (fell in love) with a baker’s daughter. In order to win her love, he disguised himself as un panettiere (a baker) and invented the panettone! This just proves that all great inventions are on account of amore (love)!
Panettone translates to “large bread”, and that is a great description of it. It has a domed top and is a light sweet bread with raisins and dried orange and lemon rinds. The best way to enjoy it is with a glass of spumante or sciampagna (champagne)!! Here’s to Natale! Cin, cin 🙂