Hello readers. This year, “My Travel in Tuscany” wants to celebrate Christmas with two special blog posts. We wish to share with you some memories from our childhood, talk about our personal Christmas Traditions, and how we used to spend these holidays with our relatives.
To follow, Edoardo talks about his family Christmas Traditions. You may find similarities with your personal stories or discover something new about celebrating Christmas in Italy. In any case, we do hope you will enjoy the read. But, first of all, we want to wish you a Merry and Happy Christmas.
The Tuscan Christmas traditions – Edoardo’s Childhood memories
Memories of my Christmas traditions are still vivid in my mind. When I was a kid, my mom did everything she could to make my two younger sisters and me feel the Christmas spirit. I learned by her side on decorating the Christmas tree and set up the nativity scene, one of the most evident Christmas traditions in Italy. Thanks to Mamma we hand down Christmas traditions in our family.
Decoration for Christmas
I used to start bothering my mum at the beginning of December. “Can we make the Christmas tree and the nativity scene?” I said.
The answer was always the same: “Is too early Edoardo, just wait a few more days!” But I could not wait. So most of the time, I used to go in the storage closet looking for boxes containing Christmas decorations. I really loved watching all the shining colors of balls and ribbons, and all the tiny crib figurines.
Unfortunately for my mother, I was so demanding that she surrendered allowing me to decorate the living room. And my sisters followed me being the older brother. Every year, I used to save money to buy a new crib figurine for the nativity scene. I also remember I was collecting real moss to simulate the grass, barks to simulate rocky mountains, and cornflour to simulate the desert sand. The “Presepe” was a big thing for me!!
Moreover, every year my artistic mind created new pieces of equipment. I put in the scene real rocks, and a bowl filled with water to simulate a lake. To make the nativity scene unique it happened to place action figures like Smurfs, Snorks, even the Masters of Universe mingling around with shepherds and sheep. It is a pity I don’t have any pictures of it. Would have been fun!
Christmas Eve dinner
On 24 December, my parent’s house hosted the Christmas Eve dinner. This was the opportunity to stay with the closest members of my family. My dear grandmother Emilia, my aunt and his husband, my uncle, and of course my family of five.
Before people literally invaded the house, the excitement was already high. Mum and Grandma were busy in the kitchen preparing the dinner. My sisters and I helped to make the dinner table beautiful. We placed with care the best set of dinnerware on the traditional red tablecloth.
Like a pearl necklace that enhances a ceremony dress, we usually put one of my mother’s creations at the center of the table. Every year she used to create a brand new centerpiece made with holly, mistletoe, red berries, Christmas decorations, and a big red candle in the middle.
When the rest of the band arrived carrying on bags full of Christmas presents, kids got crazy. We started to scream, believing (or pretending to believe) that our relatives met Santa just outside the door, giving them gifts for us.
Christmas Eve menu
Dinner started with a wishes toast, thanking God for spending another Christmas together. The menu included dishes of the Tuscan tradition but really well-finished.
After the toast with Prosecco (for kids just a small sip), dinner could begin with Tuscan crostini (made with chicken livers and toasted bread) and other canapés as appetizers. Cappelletti with capon broth (a type of ring-shaped ravioli filled with meat) was the first course. As the second course, we generally had roasted guinea fowl with roasted potatoes, salad, sautéed chard, and white beans dressed with Tuscan extra virgin olive oil.
My family is really keen on two cakes of the Italian Christmas tradition: Panettone, typical of Milan, and Pandoro, from Verona. They could never miss on the table and gluttons also garnished with a spoonful of Nutella.
On the 25 December at the rise of dawn, my sisters and I were already asleep and excited. We used to slip away from our bedrooms to meet under the Christmas tree to unwrap the presents.
Our screams of joy receiving the desired presents usually awoke our parents. We run to their bedroom, grateful to Santa Claus, desirous to share our happiness with them, embracing and kissing them, jumping on their bed mattress.
After all that joy, it was dressing time. Our mother prepared clothes to wear for Christmas day and to go to the Christmas mass.
After the mass, we joined the rest of the family at our grandmother’s house for lunch. Get into my grandmother Emilia’s house meant to enter in a cloud of traditional cuisine perfumes. I still perfectly remember the fragrance of her ragout sauce used to season delicious homemade ravioli. She was always very busy preparing the last food that she couldn’t stop working.
Although she was super busy preparing food, she always found time to welcome us with a huge hug and a warm smile. She asked us which presents we got from Santa. We tried to describe our gifts in detail. But I am sure she couldn’t understand what we were talking about because of the age difference.
The atmosphere at the table was delightful. Everyone congratulated grandma for her ability on preparing such delicious Christmas food. Lunch also included fried rabbit as the second course served with fried vegetables and baked potatoes. Of course, classic Christmas desserts ended the blowout.
Once the lunch was over, we children finally had the time to play with the new toys and enjoy the company of our grandma, before going home, tired but happy for the day just passed.
These were some of my memories of Christmas. Being a family of five, you can imagine how magic and crazy atmosphere there was in our house. Have a look also at Nicola’s story. Even if he was the only kid in his family, he has nice memories to tells you anyway.
If you love candies and sweets take a look at the post about the traditional Christmas cakes of Tuscany.