‘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.
C H R I S T M A S DAY
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.