After I moved to Italy, when it comes to December there're always friends asking how Italians celebrate Christmas. It's like forwign friends asking me how Taiwanese celebrate Chinese NewYear... Every family has its own way and it's always slightly different, though some common places do exist.
Most Taiwanese people take Christmas as an excuse for parties, for the reason that the majorities are anyway non-Christians. However, it's anyway a religious holiday. Christmas for Italians is like Chinese New Year for Taiwanese. It's an occasion for family gathering. Take my family as an example, we have Christmas lunch together. Every family member will get together for traditional crusines. After a lunch for more than three hours, we move from dining room to living room to exchange presents and open them one by one. It normally takes two hours only for opening the presents. After that, some will go home and some remains for dinner, chatting or a movie together. Basically, the whole Christmas Day is passed in eating, opening presents and chatting.
So, what do we eat? The most common dishes in the north Italy is bollito (boiled meat) and tortellini. The tortellini is normally served with broth which is the soup prepared by cooking bollito. The bollito is the second dish, normally with potato puree. I once asked Michele if there's special meaning for these dishes. According to what he said, people used to eat meat in important festivals. So meat is a must in Christmas. And Italians eat lots of pasta, so tortellini with meat filling become a traditional Christmas dish. It doesn't seem to be a proper answer for me, but asking around there's no other better explanation and I just had to accept it.
The dessert is something can't be missed. Apart from famous pandoro or panettone that only appear around Christmas, there's also tronchetto (tree trunk), or cakes decorated with Christmas symbols such as snowman or Christmas tree.
Comparing to the past years, it seems to me that Christmas is especially long this year... One of the reasons is because Letizia (Michele's sister) left for Berlin on Christmas day and we decided to do the family gathering on 24. On the Christmas Day, all brothers went to my inlaws'. The next day which is Santo Stefano we were invited to a friend's place for another party. So we basically had three big meals in three consecutive days... and there're also leftovers in my fridge... Christmas is really time for putting on weight!!
這張是2000年我正式搬過來以後的第一個聖誕節. This photo was taken on the first Christmas after I moved to Italy in 2000.
這是我今年的甜點, 大家把蛋糕上的所有裝飾都往我盤子裡放! This is my Christmas cake this year. All the decorations on the cake were put into my plate!
This is the Tronchetto cake I brought to Cristian's party.
十個人的禮物堆起來也是頗壯觀的! 每年聖誕節最期待的就是這個... Presents for ten people~~ the most exciting thing on Christmas Day.