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‘Let’s Discover Europe’ 2012-2013

The Holiday Season

The Italian team Istituto Comprensivo ‘L. Montini’ – Campobasso

Christmas Eve Â

We celebrate     Christmas   Eve   with   all   the   family   gathered     together   for   a   big   dinner   called   the   ‘Cenone   della   Vigilia   di   Natale’.   It   is   a   kind   of   ritual   because   we   never   eat   meat   but   only  fish  and  shell  fish  of  all  kinds  cooked  in  different  ways.  Our   dinner     ends   with   the   typical   regional   cakes   and   sweets   and   also  with  pane2one,  pandoro  and  torrone.    


ABer dinner  we  go  to    the  Midnight  Mass:  the  priest  puts  the  Baby  Jesus  into  the  manger  in   the   crib.     Saint   Francis   of   Assisi   introduced   the   first   NaJvity   scene   with   live   people   in   the   village   of   Greccio   in   1223   and   since   then   the   presepe   has   become   the   Italian   symbol   of   the   Christmas  season.     Homes,  churches,  schools  and  outdoor  public  areas    have  a  presepe,  large  or  small,  more  or   less   elaborated   with     clay   or   plasJc   figurines.   They   represent   the   Infant   Jesus,   Mary   and   Joseph   in   a   stable   with   an   ox   and   a   donkey   behind   the   manger   which,   according   to   legend,   warmed  the  Child  with  their  breath.  The  Three  Kings,  shepherds,  bagpipe  players,  craBsmen,   villagers,  farmers  and  animals  are  also  displayed  all  around.  The  seSng  also  includes  groToes,   small  trees,  lakes,  rivers  and    fires.  

The presepe  vivente  or  living  NaJvity  is  performed  in  the  oldest  part  of  many  towns  in  Molise.   Visitors   go   up   and   down   the   narrow   streets   to   watch   costumed   people   who   represent   the   Hole  Family    and      ancient  craBs  which  are  now  disappeared.  

Every year   on   December   24th,   the   ‘Ndocciata     takes   place   in   Agnone,   in   the   province   of   Isernia.   People   of   all   ages   light   up     the   ‘ndocce   or     torches     and   walk   towards   the   main   street  of  the  town.    This  torchlight  parade  seems  a  river  of  fire.    The  origin  of  this  tradiJon  is   uncertain,   but     surely     the     ‘ndoccia   was   a   tool   used   for   pagan   rituals   to   celebrate   the   solsJce   of   December   21st   and   then   for   ChrisJan   rites   to   represent   the   Light   of   God   and   celebrate  the  birth  of  Jesus  Christ.  


The   ‘ndocce   are   structures   made   of   silver   fir   pinewood   pallets   with   a   typical   fan   shape.   They    are  over    four  metres  high  and  they  may  be  only  one  torch  or  with  mulJple  torches   up   to   twenty   fires.   Each   of   them   is   transported   by   a   man   dressed   in   the   tradiJonal   costume:   a   round   black   cloth   cloak   which   protects   them   from   the   fire.   The   show   ends   with   a  big  bonfire  called  the  ‘bonfire  of  brotherhood’.    

Another Christmas   bonfire   Jed   to   the   winter   solsJce     is   the   Faglia   of   OraJno   in   the   province  of  Campobasso.     The  Faglia  is  an  enormous  torch  made  of  reeds.  It  is  12  metres  high  and  two  metres  wide.   Hundreds  of  people  carry  the  torch  along  the  roads  of  OraJno  up  to  the  church  square   where  it  is  liBed  by  a  crane  and  burnt.      


Children get   up   early   to   see   if   there   are   presents   brought   by   Babbo   Natale   during   the   night   though   the   real   giB-­‐giving   takes   place  on  January  6th.  

In the   morning   people   go   to   Mass   or   watch   the   Pope's   Christmas   message   broadcast  live  at  noon.   Families  gather  around  the  table  to  celebrate  Christmas  with  a  big  dinner.  

ABer dinner   we   visit   our   relaJons,     go   out   with   friends,   watch   a   film   at   the   cinema   and   play   cards   or   tombola.     Tombola     is   the   Italian   version   of   Bingo   but     you   can   make   Tombola   only     horizontally.    

New Year’s Eve

La Festa   di   San   Silvestro   celebrated   on   December   31st   and   Il   Capodanno   celebrated   on   January     1st   are     sJll   a   Jme     for   family   and   friends   who   gather   to   have   together     the   Cenone  di  Capodanno,    the  big  dinner  with  tradiJonal  dishes:   •  lenJls  that  symbolize  wealth  and  good  fortune;   •  cotechino  ,  a  pork  sausage  boiled  over  low  heat  for  hours  before  serving;   •  zampone  that  is  a  type  of  sausage;     •  raisins  for  good  luck.     It   is   a   ritual   to   celebrate   the   arrival   of   the   New   Year   with   the   midnight   toast   with     spumante,   Italian   sparkling   wine,   fireworks,   firecrackers   and   sparklers,   music     and   dancing.     Men   and   women   wear   red   lingerie   as   the   colour   red   represents   ferJlity.    

In some   villages   of   Molise   groups   of   people   sing   the   Maitunate   in   the  roads.  They  are  typical    dialectal  songs  which  wish  everyone  a   happy  new  year  and  ask  for  giBs.  They  make  fun  of  the  local  famous   people  with  allusions  and  wiTy  remarks  but  nobody  has  the  right  to   get  angry  at  the  jokes.     Each   group   is   accompanied   by   different   musical   instruments:   the   accordion,  the  guitar,  the  drum  and    the  tambourine.    

A parJcular   instrument     is     the     bufù     or     fricJon   drum   made   of   a   wooden   barrel   covered   with   goat   or   lamb   skin.   The   player   makes   it   vibrate  with  a  sJck  so  that  it   gives  a  deep  sound.  

Epiphany or la Befana

January 6th  is  a  NaJonal  holiday  in  Italy.  It  is  the  Epifania  (Epiphany),  a  ChrisJan  holiday   celebrated  precisely  12  days  aBer  Christmas.     ABer  Jesus  was  born,  the  Three  Wise  Men  or  the  Three  Kings  went  to  adore  Him  and  to   offer  their  giBs  of  gold  (symbol  of  royalty),  frankincense  (symbol  of  divinity)  and  myrrh   (symbol   of   the   future   redempJve   suffering).   They   followed   the   direcJon   of   the   star-­‐   East  -­‐  and  found  the  place  where  Mary,  Joseph  and  Jesus  were  staying.    

Children hang  their  stockings  on  the  evening  of  January  5th    awaiJng  the  visit  of  the  Befana.  She  is  an   old   good   witch   who   rides   around   on   a   broom   during   that   night.   She   stops   at   the   houses   of   children   climbing   down   the   chimneys   and   fills   the   stockings   with   toys   and   sweets   for   the   good   children   and   lumps  of  coal  for  the  bad  ones.     Many  children  leave  notes  or  le2erine  to  her  and  food  and  milk  or  wine  to  sustain  her  in  her  journey.  

According to   the   legend,   the   Three   Wise   Men   or   Re   Magi   stopped   at   the   hut   of   an   old   woman  to  ask  direcJons  on  their  way  to  Bethlehem.  They  invited  her  to  go  with  them  but   she   refused   because   she   was   too   busy.   Then   a   shepherd   asked   the   same   thing   to   her   but   again  she  said  no.  Later  that  night,  she  saw  a  great  light  in  the  sky  and  she  decided  to  join   the  Wise  Men  and  the  shepherd.  

She gathered  some  toys  that  had  belonged  to  her  own  child,  who  had  died,  and  ran   to  find  the  kings  and  the  shepherd.  But...she    could  not  find  them  or  the  stable.  Now,   La  Befana  flies  around  on  her  broomsJck  each  year  on  the  11th  night,  bringing  giBs   to  children  in  hopes  that  she  might  find  the  Baby  Jesus.  

The Holiday Season  

How we spend our Christmas holidays

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