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Christmas in Italy
Report to Moderator Old 06-02-2002 09:22 PM
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By Brenna Hall

Every country all over the world has it's own traditions. Even different religions have their own traditions. I'm going to tell you about Italy's traditions.

"Buon Natale" means Christ's birthday when it is translated. This is the equivalent to Christmas for them. In Italy they have many traditions for Buon Natale. If you lived in Italy at Christmas time you would see hundreds of lights shining brightly above the streets. You would also see very elaborate nativity scenes at most every church.

On Christmas, Italians burn a Yule log. This may have to do with two traditions. One may be that the pagans or druids from ancient Rome believed they should burn a log to get rid of all their sins they committed during the past year to give them a fresh start on the next year. The other is that Mary, in order to warm Jesus, brought him in to a house that belonged to people that were away celebrating.

Italian children have someone that brings them presents on Buon Natale but it's not Santa. This person is a woman named La Befana. The Italians have a story about La Befana it goes like this:

On the night that Christ was born La Befana and the Three Wise Men were at a house. La Befana was sweeping. The Three Wise Men wanted to go see the Christ child and La Befana said that they could go ahead and she would catch up. La Befana soon finished sweeping and ran with her presents and broom to try and catch up. She magically took off on her broom to try and catch up, but the Wise Men were nowhere in sight. Instead she took her presents to other little children leaving toys for the good kids and coal for the bad kids.

In Italy Buon Natale starts on December 6th and lasts for three weeks, ending on Christmas Eve. Nine days of this is strictly religious devotion. This nine-day period is called the novena. During the novena, every family puts up a nativity scene and they make it as intricate as they can afford. The family gets together every morning to recite prayers and the children go from house to house and recite poems for which they get money to buy candy. When the festivities end there is a feast on January 6th. This feast is called the Feast of Epiphany. January fifth is when they exchange gifts and are visited by La Befana.
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