How Christmas is celebrated in Italy and how it’s celebrated in America are very similar, and this is due to the influence that North America has received by the nations of the old continent: England, France, The Netherlands and indeed, Italy.

Christmas is a Christian event, and both Italy and the U.S. celebrate the birth of Jesus with a special mass, a gifts exchange, and with bright decorations dominating every corner of the city and inside the home.

But there are some differences in habits and customs between the two countries. The first is the menu served at the table.


turkeyPhoto Credit: The Wandering Palate


Woe to those who dare speak ill of turkey to an American, as we saw with the funny debate between TV personality/restauranteur Joe Bastianich and chef Bruno Barbieri. It is this bird to be the main course during Christmas Eve dinner in the US. In Italy, however, during the Christmas Eve dinner we eat mainly fish, for reasons that date back to ancient Christian tradition that suggests avoiding meat.

The two differ on dessert customs as well: On American tables you will find cookies and pies (and some extra set aside as a gift to Santa), while in Italy, at the end of the meal you will be offered panettone or pandoro followed by a bingo match.

In Italy, they say “Christmas with your family, Easter with who you want.” In fact, in both countries Christmas is traditionally spent with family, though there is a small difference due to the distances involved and the climate in the two countries. Italy is very small compared to the United States, and therefore returning home is much easier, and there will be little difference in the weather. It’s a different story in America, where temperatures during the month of December can vary quite a lot depending on where you are, and the longest trip possible could be 11 hours in the air if you wanted to get from New York to Honolulu.


christmas-decorated-houses-yba0sonwPhoto Credit: Joshua-Dallas


As for the decorations, holly, mistletoe and evergreens can be found both in Italy and in the United States, but there are two different times for the moment of the lighting.

Italians traditionally decorate the tree and the house on December 8, the day that coincides with the celebration of the Immaculate Conception. On the other hand, the Americans are waiting for the period between late November and early December to see the lights of the most famous Christmas tree in the world, the one at Rockefeller Center, a tradition since 1933. 

Whether you’re reading this from Italy, United States, or somewhere else in the world, one thing remains the same: Our best wishes for a Merry Christmas to you all!


christmasPhoto Credit: Decoholic


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