Christmastime in Roma
As Christmas is approaching, this blog series will explore how it’s celebrated throughout Europe – with some surprising revelations!
In Rome, ITALY, cannons are fired from Castel Sant’Angelo on Christmas Eve to announce the beginning of the holiday season. A 24-hour fast ends with an elaborate Christmas feast and small presents drawn from the Urn of Fate.
The main exchange of gifts in most places in Italy however, traditionally takes place on January 6, the feast of the Epiphany, and the celebration in remembrance of the Magi’s visit to Jesus. Children anxiously await a visit from “La Befana” (an old witch who flies on her broomstick) who brings gifts for the good and punishment for the bad. According to legend, the three wise men stopped during their journey and asked an old woman for food and shelter. She refused them and they continued on their way. Within a few hours the woman had a change of heart but the Magi were long gone. La Befana, which means Epiphany, still wanders the earth searching for Jesus to ask forgiveness.
Throughout Italy these days, however, many people celebrate what has become the recognized Christmas celebration: with Christmas trees, stockings, and Santa Clause and his reindeer delivering presents on Christmas Day.