Traditions of Christmas – Nicola’s Memories
As a special article for “My Travel in Tuscany” Christmas we thought that was nice to prepare two special posts, different from the ones we use to write. We decided to describe our memories telling you something about our family traditions of Christmas.
Nicola’s traditions of Christmas
When I was a child, the days before Christmas were full of emotion and curiosity. I was waiting with excitement the arrival of Santa with presents requested in my Santa’s Christmas letter.
The Christmas Tree and the Nativity Scene
My excitement started the 8 December with the decoration of the Christmas tree and the creation of the nativity scene. I used to help my mother with joy and happiness and together we chose the best tree to buy. We have always bought fir-trees with roots because at the end of the holiday we used to plant it in our countryside property. Today, we still have decorations from my parents’ childhood and I conserve them as a treasure handling them with care.
My favorite thing was preparing the nativity scene. We used to collect the moss and the cork for the hut directly in the forest. It was really funny for me to place the figurines into the scene created by my mother, make the desert with corn flour, the snow with the wheat flour and waterfalls and creeks with the aluminum foil.
Another of the personal traditions of Christmas was to prepare, for Christmas Eve, some biscuits and milk for Santa Claus and his reindeers. So, once he arrived bringing me presents, he could rest having something to eat and drink. I remember that once, I woke up in the middle of the night and I spent few minutes waiting for Santa hidden behind my bedroom’s door, but after a while, seeing that no one was coming, I went back to sleep losing the opportunity to see him.
Nicola when was 4 years old
The Christmas Eve
My parents and I used to spend the Christmas Eve at home, having a simple dinner with tortellini in broth and boiled chicken, and then I used to go to the Christmas mess at midnight.
Tradition of Christmas would say to do not eat meat for the Eve, but for us Christmas is more an opportunity to spend time with all the loved parents than a religious feast, and we do not follow exactly all religious rules.
For us Christmas means Family: meet relatives, grand parents, uncles and aunts, cousins and grandchildren. It’s one of the few moments of the year that we are able to spend and enjoy time together.
The 25 December
The highlight is the 25 December. When I was a child, the day started early in the morning. I couldn’t sleep so long because of the excitement and I used to climb down the stairs running under the tree to open the presents together with my mum and my beloved grandparents that were living with us.
The delicious lunch menu prepared by my grandmother, with the help of my mum and my aunt, included classic dishes of the Tuscan traditions of Christmas as chicken liver crostini, Tagliatelle with meat ragout, capon broth, lamb and boiled chicken. As a dessert, we had Tuscan Christmas cakes as Cavallucci and Panforte, but also Pandoro, Panettone, and nougat.
In the course of time, the menu changed from a classic Tuscan meat dishes to a lighter but still delicious fish menu followed by other cakes as the handmade waffle of my mother’s aunt, brittle and sweet peaches. After a restoring post-lunch nap, the afternoon passed playing with my cousin with the new toys received from Santa, while adults were playing cards or bingo. Instead, if the weather was good, a great option was to walk along the beach admiring the sea and the rays of light on the water.
For dinner, people who were still hungry could have some lunch leftovers but most of the family, after such a big lunch feast, was fine with some sweets and a warm cup of tea.
Today's Christmas celebrations
Today, although I grew up, many of the traditions of Christmas remain. I am still in charge of the decoration of the Christmas tree. There is not the nativity scene anymore but I have to set the lights up on the facade of my house. We use to organize parties and dinner with the closest friends and their sons but the 25 December still keeps the tradition to open presents with my parents and to have lunch with relatives and grandchildren we love the most.