Christmas is a special time worldwide, and Italy is no exception! This post will explore what it’s like celebrating Christmas in Italy and also provide some fun facts about Christmas in Italy for kids!

Italian school kids are usually granted a couple weeks of Christmas break, just as the kids in America do. Usually, they leave school two days before Christmas Eve (depending on the day it falls) and resume their studies after Epiphany no later than January 6th.

Celebration of St. Nicholas Day

December 6th is a special day for children across Italy – it’s St. Nicholas Day! On the eve of this festive occasion, kids write letters to St. Nicholas asking for gifts, hang up their socks, or put plates on the tables in anticipation. For some lucky ones, even Saint Nick pays them a home visit, where they can sing Christmas carols and recite poems as part of this beloved tradition!

If the little ones have been on their best behavior all year, St Nicholas will reward them with a delightful selection of fruits, nuts and treats. Naughty children typically get candy that looks like coal, but not to worry; they still taste sweet!

Decorating the Christmas Tree

Christmas trees are a common sight in homes across the country. They are typically decorated with ornaments that pay tribute to Italy’s history and culture.

Although December 8th has traditionally been the day to establish your family’s Christmas tree, you are not bound by such a set date. Some families prefer setting up their festive centerpiece on whichever weekend is closest to this iconic holiday date.

On the 8th of December, towns and cities come to life in a flurry of holiday cheer with their official Christmas tree lighting. Families make sure to join in on the festivities by taking an evening stroll through town, admiring twinkling lights from store windows, houses, and shops!

The Nativity Scene

A Nativity Scene (also known as a presepe) is essential to Christmas in Italy. Many families create their homemade scenes using statuettes, hay, and straw. Some families even purchase elaborate sets and scrolls featuring famous artwork from the Renaissance period.

Regardless of how it’s created, the main characters remain unchanged – the Madonna, Joseph, and Jesus as a baby in the manger. During Christmas Masses or processes through town, many churches display life-sized Nativity scenes. The people of Southern Italy particularly cherish their nativity scene displays, as exemplified by this photograph taken in Messina/Sicily.

Meet Santa Claus

Italians can experience the magic of Babbo Natale, or Santa Claus, during the holiday season. Though it may not be as prominent as in other nations like America, you can still locate him on select dates at malls and Christmas markets and occasional visits to small towns or villages.

Italian youngsters do not get to pose with Santa for a photo, unlike children in other countries. Instead, they write letters and send them off, hoping he will receive their request!

Christmas Feast With The Family

Christmas dinner in Italy is an extravagant affair that typically lasts several hours. The meal usually starts with antipasti, followed by one or two prime (pasta dishes) and a secondo piatto (main course). While the type of food varies from region to region, popular ingredients include seafood, meat, vegetables and delicious desserts.

After dinner, families often gather together to sing Christmas carols or even watch performances. This is a great way for little kids to let off some steam and get into the festive spirit!

Hang a Stocking for La Befana

Another popular tradition is to set up a ‘Befana’ house on January 5th each year for Epiphany. Befana is an old tale about an old woman who ‘flies’ on a broomstick and fills the stockings of kids who have been good with candy, gifts and surprises.

Children usually clean their shoes the night before to prepare for La Befana’s visit and hang them up next to their beds or inside the fireplace. After they sleep, the old woman fills the shoe with candy, fruit, or toys.


Christmas in Italy contains unique traditions handed down through generations. By engaging in these different practices and fun facts about Christmas in Italy for kids, children can get a greater appreciation for their Italian heritage.

From making a Nativity scene to hanging up stockings for La Befana, Christmas in Italy is a memorable celebration that brings families together. So whether you are an Italian local or a visitor from abroad, try out some fun activities yourself and enjoy the festive atmosphere! Buon Natale!