The 12 Days of Christmas and other Italy Christmas Traditions

Italian Christmas Lights in CalabriaItalian Christmas Lights in Squillace, Calabria

Italy Christmas traditions are a little different from the ones we have in the states. In addition to the less-obvious decorations and Christmas cheer, they also celebrate key dates we tend to overlook.

The Italians began their Christmas season this week by celebrating the Feast of Immaculate Conception (of Mary) and will end their season on January 6 during the Feast of the Epiphany.

In fact, I wrote all about Italy Christmas food, celebrations and events last year. You can catch up here.

But one thing I haven’t written about are the Twelve Days of Christmas.

And no, I’m not talking the song.

Many people mistakenly believe the 12 days of Christmas lead up to the big event on December 25. And why wouldn’t they? Stores advertise 12 days of Christmas sales, people give each other trinkets on each of the 12 days before Christmas and even our children return to school before the official 12th day has even passed.

In reality, the 12 days of Christmas are between Christmas Day and the Day of the Epiphany, with the 12th Night being celebrated on the evening on January 5, the same day La Befana delivers gifts to the children of Italy.

There is quite the controversy over whether the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was written as a symbolic code for Christians during a time when it was illegal to practice their faith and even Snopes got in on the discussion by declaring it false.

Whether you believe the origin of the song is steeped in code or that it is a nonsensical musical created for children is up to you. I, for one, kinda like a good conspiracy theory, so I’m gonna go with that.

Speaking of holidays and the days leading up to Christmas, don’t forget to throw your name into the, uhm, random generator hat for ItalianPod101 lessons, an 8X10 Italy photo of your choice or today’s giveaway, a free one-day custom Itinerary for Calabria.

Are you heading to Calabria-or somewhere else in southern Italy? If so, this giveaway is just for you.

All you have to do is sign up for Questo Mese in Italia, the official newsletter of My Bella Vita that is sent six times a year.

If you forward the newsletter confirmation to a friend (copy me using the email provided in the confirmation so I’ll know you sent them) and they sign up, you’ll receive an extra two entries! There is no limit on the number of entries you can receive.

You have until Thursday, December 17 at 5:00 PM (Italy time) to subscribe.

In bocca al lupo!

2 Responses
  1. Leslie

    Love it Cherrye! Brian and I always wonder where the 12 days come from, now we know 🙂 Great post!

    Glad to help, Leslie! 🙂

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