Christmas Markets: An Italian Christmas Tradition
Do you partake in a favorite shopping tradition for the Christmas holiday? In the USA, many shoppers rush to retail stores on Black Friday (the day following Thanksgiving) to score Christmas gifts at a hefty discount. There's also Cyber Monday where many Americans browse online to find gifts at a discount from the comfort of their own homes and offices. While there is no wrong way to shop for Christmas, these hyped up shopping experiences lack a certain Christmas magic.
In Italy, Christmas magic is never in short supply. Even their shopping experiences have a whimsical touch. The Italian Christmas Market is a prime example of Christmas cheer present in every aspect of the holiday. According to various sources, the Christmas season in Italy doesn't begin until December 8th, when they celebrate The Feast of the Immaculate Conception. During this celebration, Italians decorate Christmas trees and set out their nativity scenes. Speaking of nativity scenes, St. Francis of Assisi is credited with creating the first nativity scene in 1223.
Several days before The Feast of Immaculate Conception, many Italian Christmas Markets open. These outdoor markets are traditionally comprised of wooden huts. Though each market is different, they each offer a variety of seasonal items. At these markets, you can purchase gifts such as candles, ceramics, handicrafts, Christmas decorations, and delicious seasonal foods. From roasted chestnuts to delicious pastries such as treccia mochena, and vin brule (mulled wine) to parampampoli (hot toddies) there's something for everyone. Some Christmas Markets feature outdoor skating rinks. Many markets feature performance artists singing Christmas songs. It sounds like a holiday haven. It's the most wonderful time of the year, indeed.
- Whitney Bashaw