Today we’ll tell you about Piedmont and its Christmas traditions that have marked the life of rural people for centuries.
Piedmont is a northwestern region, on the border with Switzerland and France, and as the name indicates it is the land of the mountains. “At the foot of the mountains”. The Alps surround three sides of the region with the highest peaks and largest glaciers in Italy.
One of the oldest Christmas traditions and stories of Piedmont is the myth of talking animals. In our research we discovered a curious legend that enthralled us by its charm. The legend says that every year, on the night of Christmas Eve, all the animals get the gift of speech for just one night. They then confront each other on humans, their behavior and commenting on their actions. An unrepeatable magic, never to be revealed to men. It is said that any man listening that night can become deaf and blind in a matter of moments!
The most famous traditional figures in Piedmont are the “pastour”, the dialect for shepherds.
During Christmas time the popular adoration of the child Jesus is staged, in many parts of the region, as a representation of Gelindo.
In this performance, Gelindo is a good-natured farmer from Monferrato, owner of the hut where baby Jesus was born. In the Piedmont tradition to give welcome to the God made man is therefore a farmer and a shepherd. The nickname Gelindo is still used today in the countryside to indicate a person particularly careless. Gelindo always forgets something and goes back several times to where he started. It is precisely because of staying up late and his carelessness, that Gelindo then has the chance to meet the Holy Family.
Another particular Piedmontese tradition is about mistletoe. This auspicious plant is used to decorate the doors during Christmas time.
It is common practice to exchange a kiss if a couple is under its branches. Once burning the mistletoe of the old year meant to propitiate the crops and keep away bad luck.
Traditionals are also the Christmas and Epiphany representations in local churches, a reminder to devotees of the Christmas incarnation mystery. Among the many we like to recommend there is one very typical and famous.
The Adoration of the Magi, a fourteenth-century fresco exhibited in the cloister of the Abbey of Vezzolano.
If you find yourself in Piedmont you cannot miss a visit of Turin, the main city of the region, with its beautiful charm and Christmas illuminations.
There are also many events throughout the region. The famous Illuminated Nativity in the deep waters of the Lago Maggiore in the fairytale town of Arona.
The nativity scenes built on water in Crodo and the Parade of the pipers, eighteen costumed musicians who arrive by boat, in Angera.
In Santa Maria Maggiore, a beautiful mountain village in the Val Vigezzo, you will find the largest Christmas market in Piedmont. It is certainly one of the most evocative in Italy. Many handicraft objects to buy and artisans workshops open to the public.
Our Christmas in Piedmont ends here but we are ready to continue our journey to the next region.
Are you ready for the next stop?