Christmas Memories from Italy
During the Christmas season, we spend a lot of time decorating our homes and choosing the perfect gift for our family members, especially for our children and grandchildren. Many childhood memories are stirred by the celebration.
Memories from my own childhood come to mind from the small Italian village I was raised in. The bagpipers, ‘gli zampognari,’ would come to town and give the signal that Christmas was at hand. They were dressed in a typical fashion: wearing ciocie (sandals once worn by peasants of Latium and Campania), short knee-length pants, long wool socks, a flannel shirt, a doublet made of sheepskin, and a hat. They went from house to house, playing the pipes, and receiving some food donations for their families.
The apex of the celebration was the Midnight Solemn Mass. It didn’t matter how cold it was or how much snow was on the ground; everyone had to go to Midnight Mass because that was the time when the Son of God was born. The classic song that everyone wanted to sing was “Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle” by St. Alphonsus, translated to English means “You Come Down from the Stars”, which he wrote, composed, and sang in 1700. Since then, it has become a very popular Italian Christmas song.
Simple things signified the celebration: seeing oranges on the table (which were available only during the month of December), homemade cookies, and the fragrance of freshly baked pastries and cakes were inebriating everyone at home.
The family Christmas meal started with the children reading to their parents ‘La Letterina di Natale.’ This Christmas greeting letter would be written by the elementary children in school before Christmas break, promising to be good and to get good marks at school.
This is nostalgia. We know that what we are today is based on what we have been in the past. The values, experiences, successes, joys, and sufferings we experienced in our youth have formed and shaped us to be what we are now. The Christmas memories are part of our patrimony and the legacy we leave to our children and grandchildren for their future.
To all of you best wishes for a very blessed Christmas in the name of Jesus the Lord.
Fr Enzo Addari
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