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Kids Europe
Discover Italy Newsletter
Italian Holiday Traditions

Greetings from snowy Boston. We wish you the happiest of holidays. In this newsletter, you can enjoy learning about Italian holiday traditions.

Christmas in Rome: Some of our favorite Rome vacation apartments are available for Christmas due to a cancellation. If you want a last minute, wonderful Christmas in Rome contact us right away! Lots of information and pictures here at Excellent Europe.

The Italy Discovery Journal, regional Italian Playing Cards, Souvenir Cards and Euro collection cards all make nice gifts. An order this week for delivery by Christmas. More information.

La Befana

La Befana is one of Italy's oldest and most celebrated legends. Each year on January 6, the children of Italy awaken in hopes that La Befana has made a visit to their house. This is the day that the three Wise Men arrived at the manger of the Christ child and is more celebrated in Italy than Christmas.

Each year, on the eve of the Epiphany, La Befana sets out looking for the baby Jesus. She stops at each child's house to leave treats in the stockings for those who were good and a lump of coal for those who were bad.

Learn how La Befana began her quest for the baby Jesus as told in a beautiful book byTomie di Paola.


Nativity scenes, crèches, are called presepi in Italy. They go back far in time and have been presented with living people, with life- sized statues, and in extensive, detailed displays, no where more beautiful than in the Neapolitan style. Here is a short history and another page that provides more background.

The presepi in the elaborate displays in Italy are whole villages with lifelike figures such as carpenters and blacksmiths doing their jobs, children playing in the street, and women doing laundry. Every little detail is beautifully rendered in these small statues.


The traditional house gift for the holidays in Italy is the festive sweet bread panettone, which means, simply, big bread. It is a light bread studded with dried fruits and nuts. We like it best toasted with butter, but it is also delicious plain with your meal or as dessert.

They are available in many grocery stores and you can order them online. Unopened, they remain fresh for several months.

Ancient Italian Origins of Christmas Celebrations

Our mid winter celebration of Christ's birth is due to an effort of the early Catholic church to replace the pagan festivities, such as the wild revels of Saturnalia. It is believed that Jesus was actually born in March, but the Church decided to celebrate it when everyone was already having a party, on December 25th. This was the date of the winter solstice and also the birth day of the popular god Mithras who had been adopted from Persia by Roman soldiers.

The Christmas carol originated with the St Francis of Assisi. He also organized the first nativity scenes. He loved all creatures and had a special bond with animals. When you go to Italy, you can visit his lovely Umbrian town of Assisi.

Our family wishes you joy and peace now and during the coming year.


P L Byrne
Kids Europe

Whether you travel to Italy by car, plane, train, or armchair, consider taking the Italy Discovery Journal with you.



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