We arrived in Calabria! The toe of the Italian boot, where mountains and sea merge into picturesque landscape.
Christmas in Calabria, as in all of Italy, is the most awaited and felt time of the year. And every year Christmas traditions are repeated, families make the tree and the crib that accompany the whole festive period, all enlivened by songs and music of the bagpipes traveling the roads. But Christmas in Calabria has also a folkloristic flavor with magical and religious traditions. You can still find villages where time seems to stand still.
The most important feature of the Calabrian Christmas is definitely the crib. All homes have one: an act of religious devotion, but also a centuries-old tradition to which no one wants to give up. A passion firmly anchored to the principles brought forward from generation to generation. It is made with raw materials (moss, bark, stones, lime, flour, etc.) for the choreographic realization and construction of landscapes, snow-capped mountains, small houses, trails, streams.
Crib in Paola, Calabria (photo by Rollopack, Wikipedia Commons)
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And here we are in Basilicata! It is a beautiful region at the centre of Southern Italy and it is also known as Lucania. Today Christmas in Basilicata means traditions, scents, colors, parties and very good food. It is a religious holiday that always manages to keep alive rituals transmitted from father to son. Year after year the gestures are always the same, even if the ritual that is repeated with more energy is the cooking, as indeed in all Italian regions. And the table is still the place where the family comes together, where to breathe the scent of the peasant and pastoral past.
Basilicata has a long tradition of living nativity scenes. Small villages and charming old towns become enchanted scenarios as the setting and recalling the Nativity.
One of the most famous is the Living Nativity set in Matera but also in Sant’Angelo le Fratte, Muro Lucano, Filiano and in many other municipalities of the region.
Sassi of Matera, Unesco heritage, celebrate Christmas with a Living Nativity since 2010. The hearth of the holy family becomes the hearth of an entire city and a unique place. Ancient town carved into the rock recalls the original place of the Nativity for its natural shape, for the uniqueness of the landscape, for the balance between human settlement and the ecosystem and for the continuity of life from prehistory to the present. The Nativity takes place in eight scenes as a theatrical play. It refers to the Roman era: the ancient crafts of the soldiers to the vendors of various goods. While all Sassi are illuminated by a big comet.
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And here we are in Lombardy. Ready to know more about this region so rich of traditions?
Lombardy is located in northern Italy. The name has its origin from the Longobards who occupied the region in the sixth century, after the fall of the Roman empire.
In Lombardy the ancient and ritual tradition of the Yule log is also widely practiced throughout the region. People use to select the log among the most valuable woods as ash, pine, oak and even fruit trees.
At the arrival of the log in the houses would have followed always a big party, decorating the trunks with ribbons, leaves and flowers. Younger children rode on the stump astride and, in its wake, people doffed their hats and bowed. On Christmas the household head then would light up the log, often with the remains of the previous year. He also recited prayers and in some areas he poured on the trunk wine or grain, as good luck. People believed that the remains of the log had healing powers and could use it in fact for most situations: to treat sick calves, to have a good harvest and even for human health as sickness of teeth.
Introducing the Christmas in Lombardy we have to talk about Panettone. One of the symbol of the Italian Christmas in the world.
Continue reading Lombardy and its Christmas with Saint Lucia and Panettone