Welcome to Gourmet Project, the Roman home of the Italian Colors newsletter and Simposio: an Italian food, travel, and culture magazine

Discover what happens on Christmas day in Italy: food, meals, and traditions. 

a page of the Gourmet Mag with Christmas flowers
Italian Christmas stracciatella soup in a page of the Gourmet Mag

Christmas Day in Italy is a day of family gatherings, food, gifts opening, religious traditions, card games, movies, and city walks.

You’re about to find out what happens on Christmas day in Italy, at least in the majority of households.

Christmas Day morning

The first Italian Christmas Day tradition is to wear cute pajamas and have breakfast with the family: Pandoro or Panettone leftovers dipped in a foamy cappuccino or latte macchiato. Try making pandoro French toasts if you dare!

In some parts of Italy, Christmas gifts are given on the 25th morning (and not at midnight of the 24th), as if it was baby Jesus that delivered them, during the night. In some Northern Italy places, St Lucia is the gift bearer. She visits children on the night of December 12th. Kids leave a cup of tea for her, and a plate of cornflour (or a carrot) for her donkey.

The religious members of the family, too cold or lazy to assist to the midnight mass, will go to the morning or the noon mass. All the others will sluggishly help reorder the house or play with the children’s new toys.

Christmas Day socks
my beagle dog next to my Christmas fireplace

 

Some of the pictures in this post are from the Red & Orange Issue of the Gourmet Mag, an Italian cooking and living magazine, made in Rome! In this issue you’ll find more Italian Christmas traditions and recipes!

a page of the Gourmet Mag with a meaty Christmas dish
Italian Christmas Panettone in a page of the Gourmet Mag

Christmas Day lunch

After the “poor” fishy Christmas Eve, Italians are ready to welcome meat to their tables again. 

So expect anything from tortellini (in broth) to lasagne, from stuffed Cappone (castrated domestic cock, usually stuffed with sausages, prunes, chestnuts, and herbs) to roast pork or rabbit.

Of course, before that, a cheese board or a charcuterie plate with prosciutto, pancetta, lard, and salami will welcome you to the table.

Of course, there’s going to be something sweet to end the feast: another Panettone or Pandoro, but also torrone, strudel, cannoli, struffoli, cookies, and cakes.

IF you have dinner, it’s usually leftovers or a light broth.

Christmas decorations
Christmas Italian torrone

a seasonal Italian magazine and slow travel journal

The Gourmet Mag is an independent magazine about Italy. It aims to narrate Italy, the authentic one, describing it through its cuisine, places, lifestyle, and culture.

Each issue relates to an Italian city or region, to capture its essence and immense socio-cultural heritage.

Italian Christmas Day traditions

After the strenuous digestion (supported by a tiny glass or two of amaro or limoncello), there are a few afternoon traditions:

  • go back to card games (Mercante in Fiera) and Tombola (bingo);
  • sprawl on the couch and watch a Christmas movie;
Christmas Day fair
Christmas Day walk
  • go for a walk in a beautiful spot in the city. In Rome, for example, there’s the extra-crowded Piazza Navona, or the 100 Cribs exhibition (an art show of 100 artisanal Cribs from Italy and the rest of the World). In the piazzas and the streets, you’ll meet people, and find fair stands with games, treats, and various entertainers, like Zampognari. If you want to be alone and rest a bit, there are a lot of parks and villas to go for a walk.
Christmas bandana beagle at the park
my beagle Smeagol with his Christmas bandana
  • go to the movies (or the opera, if that’s a lucky year!), but this is something you must have planned: unless you book a few days, or weeks, in advance, you’ll never find tickets!
Christmas Day opera poster
Rome's opera house

Enjoy your Christmas day in Italy and spread some love!

Claudia

a page of the Gourmet Mag with Christmas games
a red car and Christmas street lights in a page of the Gourmet Mag
Holler Box