Warning! This blog about Italy Holiday Traditions is highly recommended for reading for those who:
– Like to crush grapes with his feet to the songs of Andriano Celentano;
– Sit in a checkered blanket with a cat on their lap (you need to respect this person);
– Does not break spaghetti in half (this is almost a crime!)
–And, of course, for all of those who loves Italia as much as I do!
Q: Where do people take vacations that revolve around food?
Chao, lovely readers! Frankly speaking, I think I was Italian, in a pasta-life. And it’s not a surprise that I have faced a great desire to write an Italian holiday aperitivo-guide for those of you fond of festivals, rejoicing, stunning pastas, and probably wine.
(Not to mention the sounds of laughter, glass tinkling, and a strong desire to write a reckless text message to your ex.)
Oops, we won’t tell anyone!
Whether planning your next vacation to Italy or just curious about its fascinating culture, knowing the calendar of holidays is important. This remains exceptionally true if you plan to surprise your friends, family, or business associates in Italy with timely gifts. The holidays can be great fun to experience (we know that!) and truly dive into the local culture, but it’s always best to prepare!
Buone Feste: The Taste of the Italian Holiday Traditions
Rich in history, steeped in tradition, and delightfully attractive, Italy is not only our favorite travel destination but the place to celebrate as well. Dolce vita, piccolo momenti Italiani, aka little Italian moments, such as stopping at a bar mid-morning and sitting on a terrace. It’s all about one of the liveliest and most cheerful nations in the world – Italians. They are full of life, and they like to celebrate, so there are many national Italian holidays.
Thus, no more talking; let’s hop together on a virtual Vespa and come along for a ride through the most exciting and extraordinary celebrations to get inspired for your next trip to the sunny shores of Italy.
Italy & Holiday Traditions Through the Year
When exploring Italy and holiday traditions, there’s nothing to fear. The people of Italy are always happy to talk to you about their traditions and customs. Especially over a meal! These brief overviews of popular holiday traditions in Italy are a great place to start. But ask your friends, family, and colleagues there to tell you more. Sending a bottle of wine and an invitation to talk over video or voice chat is a great way to start the conversation!
Christmas holidays in Italy end with Epiphany, celebrated on January 6th throughout the country. The main symbol of this day is Befana, a Santa Claus-like figure, who looks like an old benevolent witch. There is an old Italian tradition when children are brought sweets during the night of January 5 by Befana that leaves candies in stockings for good children and coal for the naughty.
Sending a sweet gift basket to your lucky recipients in Italy around this time is the perfect way to add a touch of cheer and nostalgia to the start of their year!
In Italy, this day, known as San Valentino, is called the Festa degli innamorati, the day of lovers. It is usually celebrated by going to a restaurant for a nice dinner. Lovers typically give each other Christmas gift baskets, flowers, and chocolates in heart-shaped boxes.
If picking out romantic gifts stresses you out, never worry! Our team has created a catalog of Valentine’s Day gifts to Italy that will delight and impress any lucky recipient.
Italy’s Carnevale is a time for fun before the beginning of the Lenten season. While you will see a local version of the festivities in any Italian city and village, some are more famous for their sophisticated spectacles. Such as Venice with costumes, fancy masks, confetti, lights, and colors, creating a unique festive atmosphere. Dates vary each year, depending on what date Easter falls on.
La Festa delle Donne
If you’re in Italy in early March, you may notice yellow mimosa flowers, well, everywhere! Many present these flowers to women in honor of la Festa delle Donne (International Women’s Day). The mimosa flower is a symbol for women, who despite issues regarding gender inequality and abuse, are still able to prosper and thrive.
We know flowers aren’t for everyone, though. This is why our catalog of Women’s Day gifts is bursting with a wide variety of options to please any taste.
Pasqua or Pasquetta
This is also a national holiday in Easter, affectionately called “Little Easter.” This occasion draws large groups to Vatican City to celebrate with the Pope. Usually, on this day, Italians travel into the countryside to spend time with friends and families. They feast on lamb, spring vegetables, and la Torta Pasqualina savory pie which is stuffed with Swiss chard, ricotta, and hard-boiled eggs. Children of all ages celebrate Pasqua by unwrapping a giant chocolate egg filled with a surprise inside.
Republic Day (Festa della Repubblica)
The Festa della Repubblica marks the birth and unification of the Italian Republic. If you can, head to Rome for this national holiday—that’s where you can enjoy the holiday’s huge, patriotic military parade and see Italian tricolore flags fly across the country in pride.
It’s an Italian holiday celebrated on the 15th of August. Ferragosto is a day off in Italy, when Italians close up shops and, traditionally, spend the day outdoors, going on long walks, retreating to beaches or mountains, firing up barbecues, and chilling with friends or family. It’s not a bad way to spend a midsummer’s long weekend with such a perfect coastline around! In this long list of Italy holiday traditions, a national day off for outdoor activities is one we could us more of around the world.
Ognissanti (All Saint’s Day) is celebrated on the 1st of November, and the 2nd of November, commonly called “i Morti” in Italian, is the day dedicated to the dear ones who passed away. In Sicily, for example, there is the custom of preparing gifts and sweets for the children. They’re told that the deceased relatives brought the gifts. In Bormio, Lombardy, on the night of November 2nd, it’s customary to put a pumpkin on the windowsill filled with wine. In Abruzzo pumpkins are decorated, and the kids go knocking from house to house asking for gifts for the souls of the dead, usually seasoned fruit, dried fruit, and sweets.
Many cities and towns cheerfully decorate for Christmas with hanging street lights and illuminated trees and buildings. Prepare for Christmas like an authentic Italian with a fish dinner on la Vigilia (Christmas Eve), followed by midnight mass! Many celebrate Christmas Day with a large lunch with family. The Christmas season continues for 12 more days until January 6th, La Festa dell’Epifania, and the feast of La Befana.
This extended holiday season gives you even more opportunities to surprise your recipients in Italy with Christmas gifts.
New Year’s Eve
Possibly one of the most important celebrations in Italy. On New Year’s Eve, many Italians will get together with family and friends for dinner. Christmas dinners are very traditional in Italy, and New Year’s dinners are, too – the meal will always feature pork and lentils. Most cities and towns will have official fireworks shows. Just about anywhere you go, you’ll also see smaller groups of people with their own firecrackers, lighting up small courtyards or side streets.
If you aren’t sure what holidays your recipients in Italy celebrate, New Year’s Eve is always a safe bet. It’s the perfect time to help your loved ones start the year off right with a thoughtful New Year’s gift!
Salute and Cin Cin! For Local Italy Holiday Traditions
Although there are a lot of national holidays on the Italian calendar, they’re not the only times that Italians celebrate. In fact, if you look at sunny Italians, you may feel that they are celebrating every day. Well, life is too short to drink bad coffee and not celebrate even minor occasions.
Okay-okay, just kidding. The Italians often say, “a lungo andar la pagia pesa” (good things come in small packages). Thus, let’s dive together into a few local Italy Holiday traditions.
No one loves pizza more than Joey Tribbiani, right? And the rest of the Italians, of course. Every year, the motherland of pizza, Naples, holds the main pizza festival in the world and one of the greatest events in Italy. The delicious and flavorful festival lasts over a week when Naples fills with the delightful aromas of basil, mozzarella, and freshly baked pizza.
Battle of Oranges
The Battle of the Oranges is an annual tradition in Ivrea and part of a larger celebration described as “the most ancient historical Carnival in Italy, where you can join in the fight!” The event, which occurs over three days beginning on the Sunday before Shrove Tuesday, is a festive way to commemorate the history of the Ivrean people’s liberation. The holiday is a symbol of their spirit and their victory in obtaining freedom.
Snake Handlers’ Procession
Each year, people in Cocullo, a small medieval town, decorate a wooden statue of its patron saint, San Domenico, with live snakes and parade it through the streets. The “serpari” festival, held on the first of May, honors San Domenico for miraculously removing snakes from farmers’ fields in the 11th Century. Don’t be worried – at the end of the festival, the snakes are released back into their wild homes.
Every year, throughout May and June, the streets of Italian towns transform into beautiful, colorful scenes of flowers. This is how you know the festival of Infiorata begins. A unique artistic spectacle where streets are adorned with incredible floral carpets celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi, known as ‘Corpus Domini’ in Italian. It is worth planning to see these exquisite floral creations and flower masterpieces. Some of the most attractive displays include the towns of Orvieta in Umbria, Pienza in Tuscany. In Genzano, for example, the flower carpet covers about 2,000 square meters, over 21,500 square feet. That is under half of a football field! The festival of Infiorata itself lasts about 48 hours, then it all comes to an end.
Buon Appetito! Eat like Italians: Foods for Italian Holidays
I asked an Italian chef if he ever gets tired of cooking, and he said he just can’t pasta-p by a kitchen.
Among all of the Italy holiday traditions, food may be one of the most sacred and universal. The relationship between Italians and food is the greatest love affair ever written in gastronomic history.
Here are some of the most typical Italian cibi, or foods that are dancing in the heads of Italians during this season:
Minestra Maritata means “marriage soup” in English. It often appears as part of a traditional Italian Easter, Christmas, or San Silvestro (December 26) feast, made with escarole and tiny meatballs simmered in chicken broth and adorned with small pasta.
Marche Lasagna (Lasagna Vincisgrassi)
The decadent Italian dish, Marche Lasagna, was named after its birthplace, Le Marche, Italy. To prepare this Italian delicacy, one should combine baked pasta with tomato and cream, a mix of pork, beef, and chicken. This lasagna is sure to please meat lovers!
Pasta in Brodo
Pasta in Brodo translates literally as “pasta in broth,” a noodle soup that is warming, simple, and comforting. It’s a dish that usually appears on the Christmas or Easter table.
Roasted Lamb and Potatoes
This is a favorite dish in Rome, especially at Easter. Light on ingredients, delicious – on flavor. Juicy lamb chops are cooked with the flavors of garlic, rosemary, and Parma ham, while the potatoes are sliced thin and cooked in stock with the lamb to give real depth of flavor.
A typical Christmas confection. It is mainly made of egg whites, honey, sugar, and toasted dried fruit (nuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, and cranberries). Torrone has different types depending on the ingredients: hard and crunchy or soft and gentle. There’s one for everyone’s taste!
A traditional holiday cake made of sweet bread with a typical dome shape. Its upper crust is decorated by candied fruit, orange peel, and cedar (in equal parts), and raisins. Within the Christmas period, grocery stores and bakeries are filled with panettone – they make delicious gifts for friends, family, and work colleagues!
Chicken Liver Canapés
Probably the simplest and best-known type of these canapés is where chicken liver pate is put on baguette pieces. The liver can be fried, cut up in slices, then served on top of a bread base with walnuts or onion jam.
Crea Momenti di Felicità: Gifts For Those Who Have Italy in Their Heart
Now, when you are thinking about all these recipes that make your mouth watering, you can explore our Italian gifts that will match any occasion. A delightful and thoughtful gift can break distances, melt hearts, and even strengthen corporate relationships. We offer a wide variety of Italian Gifts that are just as friendly as an Italian man drinking coffee on a terrace!
Italian Wine: There is no doubt that wine plays an important role in Italian culture. Send a taste of the best with a wine basket that will stun your friends and co-workers. If you’re surprising them for an extra special occasion, try elevating the experience with a bottle of champagne instead.
Gourmet Gift Basket: Yep. Food. Again. Delight your recipients by sending them decadent gourmet gift baskets. They’re perfect for every occasion, and the combinations are endless. Featuring the best Italian food snacks, like cheddar cheese, sundried tomato bruschetta, finocchiona, original marinara by Bona Fortuna, and more.
Italy & Holiday Traditions – Helping You Stay In Touch
When it comes to learning about Italy, holiday traditions, and how to spoil the people from this country (and those who love it), there’s no better way to start than by doing. And when it comes to sending gifts to Italy, there’s no easier way than working with our dedicated experts. We’re ready and eager to help you stay connected with your cherished recipients through gifts. If you need assistance, our gift experts are standing by 24/7 to help you over chat, email, phone, or social media.
You’ve learned about Italian national and local holidays; now what?
- – If you enjoyed this blog, you might also enjoy learning more about New Year’s Traditions In Italy.
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Yulia is a blogger, coffee addict and a huge foodie. She’s passionate about writing, travelling and reading Stephen King’s books. As a gigantic movie-fan, she often participates in cinema conventions, festivals and quizes.