Christmas is one of the best known holidays in the world and each country has developed its own Christmas traditions. From the typical exchange of gifts to the setting up of nativity scenes and lights in the city streets, the Christmas atmosphere is always recognizable.
Here is a list of Italian Christmas traditions and how Christmas comes to the city of Siena.
Christmas traditions in Italy
The tradition of the crib is a typical Italian Christmas tradition. The first nativity scene in history, a living nativity scene, was set up by Saint Francis of Assisi in 1223.
The traditional nativity scene is a plastic and very realistic composition of the Nativity of Jesus Christ. In the crib there are all the characters and places of the tradition, including: the cave, the manger, Joseph and Mary, the wise men, the shepherds, the sheep, the ox and the donkey.
Traditionally, the statuette of the Child Jesus is placed in the manger at midnight between 24 and 25 December, while the statues of the Magi are placed on the day of the Epiphany.
Of course, there are also living nativity scenes, a Christmas tradition that began in the Middle Ages and that today it is possible to see especially in large cities.
The Christmas tradition of the Christmas tree is a tradition originally born in Northern Europe, but which is now widespread all over the world.
In Italy, it is traditional for the Christmas tree to be set up on December 8, the day of the Immaculate Conception. The typical decorations that are placed on a Christmas tree are balls and lights, with a nice tip that crowns the top of the tree.
To decorate the Christmas tree, balls are used because there is a legend that tells of a juggler, who wandered the streets of Bethlehem during the birth of Jesus. The juggler was sad, as he could not afford to bring a gift to the Baby Jesus, so he decided to take advantage of his artistic skills. The juggler made a show just for the Baby Jesus, making him smile.
Another Italian Christmas tradition, especially in the center-south of the peninsula, is that of bagpipers, men dressed as shepherds and carrying bagpipes, dating back to the XNUMXth century.
The bagpiper typically comes down from the mountain and goes through the streets of the town to play Christmas music on his wind instrument.
Sometimes it is also possible to see a couple of bagpipers taking part in a living nativity scene, placed near the cave or hut.
One of the Christmas traditions most loved by children is the advent calendar. This is a very common tradition in Northern Italy, where almost every family prepares it.
The advent calendar is made up of 24 boxes, representing the 24 days before Christmas, starting from December 1st until the eve. A box is opened every day, which corresponds to the day of the month and inside there are small gifts or sweets.
This tradition has become so widespread that advent calendars can be purchased in all supermarkets.
The boxes of the advent calendar can also contain sweets and among these you could find some Christmas sweets signed Nannini, to bring the Sienese tradition into our homes.
Christmas traditions in Siena
As in every city, the Christmas period in Siena is characterized by the lights, which illuminate the squares and main streets of the city starting from December 1st.
If you go to Piazza del Campo, we can admire the Christmas projections on the external walls of the Town Hall. From the comet to the snowflakes, you can see all the typical symbols of Christmas projected on the famous Sienese monument.
Bracelets of the districts
This year, in the streets that will not be illuminated by the lights of the city, they will instead be illuminated by the bracelets of the districts.
Each district has decided the streets of its district to illuminate with its own bracelets, to give more color and joy to the streets of the city even in this difficult period.
Christmas trees for every district
Christmas trees are set up in the various districts of the city of Siena. Depending on the district in which they are located, the decorations reflect the colors of the district.
For example, if walking through the streets of Siena we see a Christmas tree with yellow, red and blue decorations, we know we are in the Chiocciola district. If, on the other hand, we find ourselves in front of a tree where light blue, red and white dominate, we are in the Pantera district.
Each district thus embellishes the streets of the city of Siena, with its own colors and with its own Christmas spirit.
The little train
As every year, a little train will run through the streets of the city of Siena, which will stop in the most important places in the historic center.
This Christmas tradition has been going on for years now, and from this year there will also be stops near the Contrada Museums, which will be open and can be visited.
Fair of Santa Lucia
To get into the spirit of Christmas, the well-known Christmas tradition of the markets cannot be missed.
In Siena every 13 December the Santa Lucia Fair takes place, where you can buy objects to decorate your home and your tree for the Christmas party. It is also possible to buy various Christmas sweets, to eat with the family on December 25th.
In a city like Siena, gastronomic itineraries certainly cannot be missing, which give visitors the opportunity to savor typical Christmas dishes through the streets of the city.
This can be an opportunity to taste Nannini's handcrafted products, which every year bring the joy of Christmas to the homes of those who buy their products.