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Christmas in Italy

The first hymns composed in honor of the day of Christmas and the Nativity are believed to have been written in the fifth century. These hymns Latin had a tone solemn and only treated the religious aspects of the holiday. In the late thirteenth century, St. Francis of Assisi introduced the idea of joyful carols and Christmas spirit printed with similar format known to us. St. Francis wrote the Christmas hymn "Psalmus the native" in Latin. From Italy, the Christmas carols were spread all over Europe, including Germany. But not only carols started in this space ...


* Saturnalia


Italy is considered the country of origin of Christmas, according to a hypothesis supported increasingly more lately, this event after forming by the Church of the festival Saturnalia (worshiped the god Saturn) and other pagan holidays.


In scolele III and IV AD., The Church of Rome was in a fierce competition with popular pagan religions and mystery cults, beliefs involving mostly a glorification of the sun. From mid-December until the first day of January, in Romans feasted parties and orgies, celebrating the winter solstice and bringing homage to their gods.


In the year 274 AD., Emperor Aurelian declared December 25 in the Julian calendar solstice day as "Natalis solis invicti" ( "birth of the invincible sun"), a festival dedicated to the sun god Mithras. Thus, by designating 25 December as the date of the feast of the Nativity, the Christians in Rome directly attacked the Roman paganism.


At the same time, to ensure that the Christian celebration will take place the cult of Mithra, they relied on a rich symbolism Bible where Jesus was seen as "the sun of righteousness" and God "true light" sent among the people to dispel the darkness from the world. In this way, Christmas is celebrated throughout the centuries, continue to keep pagan elements originating, despite the symbolism conferred by the Church.


* How Italians spend Christmas?


In Italy today, celebrating Christmas is crossed by a note authentic, unique, which combines pastoral traditions, rites and traditional cultural influences from northern Europe.


Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, open winter celebrations in Italy. According to Roman Catholic dogma, it is the day the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ was conceived in the womb of her mother Anne, without original sin. The feast was instituted by Pope Sixtus the IV in 1476 was declared dogma by Pope Pius IX of 1854 entitled Deus Ineffabilis.


In this day adorns the Christmas tree and reconstruct the nativity of Jesus Christ . Tradition "manger" dating from St. Francis of Assisi who in 1223 made ​​the first representation with vivid characters to explain how people Savior was born. Holy Child will be kept out until the night of 24 to 25 December you will find its place in the "manger" in Italian homes. With time, "ieslele" have become works of art based on imagination.


The most popular and sought after "manger" are performed and displayed for sale in Naples San Gregorio Armeno street. Traders work all year to face competition. Naples is the only stall take pastors famous faces of characters that changes each year. For example, ieslele 2011 were adorned with statues of the Duke and Duchess low of Cambridge, William and Kate, and unfailing footballer Maradona.


Christmas holidays in Italy respects proverb "Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi" / "Spend Christmas in family and Easter with whoever you want," Christmas Eve is as important as the feast itself. Families come together at dinnertime and the menu consists mainly of fish-based dishes. Consumers Association annual estimated that Italians spend one million euros for the fish prepared on the day of Christmas Eve.


No shortage of specific sweets, biscuits symbols like Christmas, "torrone" , a preparation of chocolate with hazelnuts or almonds, and cakes called "panettone" and "pandoro" exported and Romania. Relatives invited to the table but will bring flowers in pots called "Christmas Stars" ( "euphorbia pulcherrima" in Latin) who discovers his red flowers during this period.


Italians, especially those in the north of the country, have a habit of decorating a tree in the middle of the house, but according to tradition, children do not addressed to Santa Claus letters that ask him to bring their gifts preferred, but send letters to their parents, among which expresses love towards those who gave them life. These letters are placed, usually under their father's plate, they read aloud immediately after Christmas Eve mass.


Discrete and cities adorn trees and light shows, and local government organizes concerts and performances in the market. On Christmas Day, the public television service Rai broadcast live from the Vatican.


What is interesting, though "Babbo Natale" (Santa Claus) and gifts given for Christmas become habits becoming more common, the main day for gift giving is Epiphany, the 12th day of Christmas, when the three wise men they gave Baby Jesus their gifts.


In Italy, presents are brought by La Befana , a good witch that night children fill stockings with gifts. According to legend, the three wise men stopped to ask Befana in which direction you should move to reach Bethlehem and invited her to join them. Witch refused, and later doing the same when a pastor urged her to go with him to honor the baby Jesus.


After nightfall, she saw a bright light in the heavens, which made ​​her wonder whether he was wrong in rejecting the offer of the three Magi, so he gathered more toys the children they leave on this world and he ran trying to catch the wise men and the shepherd. Belfana failed to find them, as not successful in discovering the stable where the Lord was born. For this reason, every year, it endeavors to trace Jesus, and for failing to find him, gives gifts to good children and lumps of coal (or "carbone dolce" , a candy-like carbon) children naughty.


Since the early hours of Christmas, prepares lunch which can have pork meat, but in small quantities. Throughout the holiday season, the tables will be permanently Italians baskets with dried fruits (almonds, figs, prunes) and nuts, peanuts are guests. Because time does not allow long walks, Italians prefer to spend their evenings in the house playing cards or Christmas raffle, a game of hazard which may award money or objects.


* Other Italian customs and traditions:


Ceppo is a wooden structure about a meter high in a pyramid. This skeleton is placed on several shelves, bottom being especially reserved a scene of Jesus's birthday, and the top is intended candy, fruit and gifts. Ceppo, called "shaft of light", is decorated with colored paper, pine cones wrapped in tinfoil and small flags. Small candles are fixed on the protrusions in and sits at the pinnacle of a star or a small doll.


Urn of Destiny is an old tradition in Italy, in which each family member must extract a gift packed in a large bowl decorated until all the gifts are shared within it.


Zampognari and Pifferi - in Rome and around the capital of Italian residents in the mountains of Abruzzo, dressed in clothes traditional wool, wearing boots up to the knee, white stockings and long robes black, singing of bagpipes and whistles, desfătând crowds gathered around churches.