Category Archives: Italian Superstitions

Christmas Traditions In Italy

 

Italian traditions in Italy are based on the religion of Christianity. Christmas starts eight days before Christmas and lasts till after the Feast of Epiphany. Musical salutes are made at the shrine of the Virgin Mary and songs are played at the homes of carpenters in honor of St. Joseph. Eight days before Christmas, a special Novena of prayers and church services begin. It all ends on Christmas Day. On December 23rd, sometimes earlier, children dressed as shepherds with sandals, leggings tied with crossing thongs, and wearing shepherds’ hats, go from house to house playing songs on shepherds’ pipes and giving recitations. They receive money to buy Christmas treats. In cities like Rome real shepherds sometimes carry out the performance. A strict fast is observed 24 hours before Christmas after which a meal with many dishes (but no meat) is served. The traditional Christmas dinner, Cenone, is made up of spaghetti and anchovies, an assortment of fish, fresh broccoli, tossed salad, fruits, and sweets.

YULE LOG:

A Yule log, the Ceppo, is burned, and toasts in wine and wishes for the future are expressed. The Urn of Fate, an old Italian tradition, is a large ornamental bowl that holds wrapped gifts for members of the family. When the family gets together, each member takes his turn at drawing a gift from the urn until all the presents are distributed. The presepio (manger or crib) represents in miniature the Holy Family in the stable and is the center of Christmas for families. Guests kneel before it and musicians sing before it . The presepio figures are usually hand-carved and very detailed in features and dress. The scene is often set out in the shape of a triangle. This is a wooden frame arranged to make a pyramid several feet high. Several tiers of thin shelves are supported by this frame. It is entirely decorated with colored paper, gilt pine cones, and miniature colored pennants. Small candles are fastened to the tapering sides. A star or small doll is hung at the apex of the triangular sides. The shelves above the manger scene have small gifts of fruit,candy, and presents.

THE CEPPO

The ceppo is in the old Tree of Light tradition which became the Christmas tree in other countries. Some houses even have a ceppo for each child in the family. The ceppo is a wooden frame several feet high designed in a pyramid shape. This frame supports several tiers of shelves, often with a manger scene on the bottom followed by small gifts of fruit, candy, and presents on the shelves above. The “Tree of Light,” as it is also know, is entirely decorated with colored paper, gilt pinecones, and miniature colored pennants. Small candles are fastened to the tapering sides and a star or small doll is hung at the apex. From the Castle of Saint Angelo in Rome a cannon is tired to proclaim the opening of the Holy Season. Each tries to outdo the other by displaying the biggest presepio.

LA BEFANA

La Befana:  Kindly old witch who brings children toys on the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6. According to the legend of la Befana, the Three Wise Men stopped at her hut to ask directions on their way to Bethlehem and to invite her to join them. She refused, and later a shepherd asked her to join him in paying respect to the Christ Child. Again she refused, and when night fell she saw a great light in the skies. Children in Italy hang up their stockings on the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6. They celebrate the visit of the Three Kings to Bethlehem. Instead of Santa Claus, children are expecting Befana. She is a witch-like character who rides around on a broom. The legend is that the Three Wise Men, I re magi, stopped at Befana’s hut to ask directions on their way to Bethlehem and asked her to join them. She said no, she was too busy. Later a shepherd asked her to join him in paying respect to the Baby Jesus. Again, Befana said no. Later when it was dark and she saw a great light in the skies, she thought perhaps she should have gone with the Wise Men. So, she gathered some toys that had belonged to her own baby, who had died, and ran to find the kings and the shepherd. But Befana could not find them or the stable. Now, each year she looks for the Christ Child. And each year since she can not find him, she leaves the gifts for the good children of Italy and pieces of charcoal for the bad ones.

CHRISTMAS EVE DINNER

No meat is eaten for twenty-four hours before Christmas Eve, but there follows a meal as big as the family can afford. A special New Year Banquet is eaten on the last day of the year, with raisin bread, turkey, chicken, rabbit, and spaghetti. Champagne is the drink of the evening.

THE COUNT DOWN

DECEMBER 6: La Festa di San Nicola – The festival in honor of St. Nicholas, the patron saint of shepherds, is celebrated in towns such as Pollutri with the lighting of fires under enormous cauldrons, in which fave (broad beans) are cooked, then eaten ceremoniously.

DECEMBER 8: L’Immacolata Concezione – celebration of the Immaculate Conception

DECEMBER 13: La Festa di Santa Lucia – St. Lucy’s Day

DECEMBER 24: La Vigilia di Natale – Christmas Eve

DECEMBER 25: Natale – Christmas

DECEMBER 26: La Festa di Santo Stefano – St. Stephen’s Day marks the announcement of the birth of Jesus and the arrival of the Three Wise Men

DECEMBER 31: La Festa di San Silvestro – New Year’s Eve

JANUARY 1: Il Capodanno – New Year’s Day

JANUARY 6: La Festa dell’Epifania – The Epiphany

 

 

Italian Quotes

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Italian families stick together through thick and thin. We Fight and love so intensely, but in the end we will always be family. It’s not uncommon for families to live together even after the children are married with families of their own. With family acting as such an integral part of every day life, no wonder there are so many wonderful Italian quotes about family. So what is your favorite family quote?
Things you heard when you where growing up and have been etched in your mind for life and you know will be passed down to your children. Come on and share..

Ok Here are a few:

Amor di madre, amore senza limiti…..A mother’s love has no limits. 

Chi si volta, e chi si gira, sempre a casa va finire…..-
No matter where you go or turn, you will always end up at home.
Il sangue non e acqua.
Blood is not water. Or Blood is thicker than water. Or, family comes first no matter what.

Per un orecchio entra e per l’atro esce.
In one ear and out the other.

Giovane ozioso, vecchio bisognoso.
If you’re lazy when you’re young, you’ll be poor when you’re old.

Chi tova un amico trova un tesoro. : He who finds a friend, finds a treasure.

A tavola non si invecchia.
At the table with good friends and family you do not become old.

: Casa mia, casa mia
Home sweet home.

Dio benedici questa casa.
God bless this house

Ogni brutto figghio pe’la mamma pare nu giglio.
Every ugly child looks like a lily to his mother.

Italain Superstitions Malocchio

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Did you know that the Italian culture has so many superstitious beliefs? Some superstitions are so prevalent, so ingrained in the culture, that they dictate
even the smallest details of everyday life. I can vouch for this because I’m
from an Italian Family and my Grandparents and my aunts and uncles, and many family friends were constantly warning us of these things we must do or not do as I was growing up.

Here’s are some of the most common superstitions :

Malocchio:

The curse of the evil eye. Anyone can cast the evil eye intentionally or accidentally. All it to pay someone a compliment while feeling jealous or envious. My Grandmother use to give the TV set the evil eye if someone was doing something she didn’t like. She was adorable. The symptoms of malocchio curse can be moderate
to severe including migraine headaches, to fatigue and dizziness, or a soccer
team losing four straight games, and so on and so forth. The remedy for the evil eye involves a special ceremony performed by a grandmother or mother or aunt who has be taught the ancient ritual to dispel the evil eye.
They drip olive oil into a bowl of water. If the oil beads in a circle around the perimeter of a bowl, she must pray to a female saint for the cure. If the oil beads in a row through the center, they must pray to a male saint.

Birds:

If a bird should fly into your home, be very afraid, for this is a sure sign of death.

Bread:

Bread is most revered in Italy. When baking bread, always make the sign of the cross over the dough before baking.  And when taking the bread out of the oven, never let the bread slide upside down when removing it from the baking pans. This is considered disrespectful to the body of Christ. When you go to visit someone’s home for the first time, take a loaf of bread, it insures they never go hungry.  Also no matter how stale the bread is, it  must never be thrown away without kissing it first.

Selling your home:

When Italians want to sell their home, for good luck, they bury a small statue of Saint Joseph upside down facing towards the home.

Itchy Nose:

When your nose itches, it means your going to either kiss a fool or a fool is going to kiss you.

Pregancy Cravings:

Cravings, WHAT EVER YOU DODON’T TOUCH YOURSELF! Why? Because if you don’t have what you’re craving and touch yourself, your baby will be born with a birth mark in the same place you touch yourself and with the shape of your craving. Don’t believe me? My son has a birth mark of a steak on his back. REALLY he does.

Numbers:

Italian, we consider lucky numbers to be 10, 25, and 7. There are some numbers we consider unlucky, like 17, 90, and 48. Wednesday the 13th and Friday the 17th are unlucky days during the month. The number 90 is a scary number (this is from Sicily).

Le Corna or Red Hot Pepper:

In southern Italy, we have some objects that give us good luck, like a red hot pepper and “le corna.” The symbol for “le corna” is a hand with only two fingers pointing down. When a baby is born, we put a good luck object like these under the mattress of the baby’s crib to keep away bad luck. But “le corna” has a different meaning when the two fingers are pointing up. That means your wife or your husband is cheating on you!

 

Itchy Hand:

An old superstition about itching hands says that money is either coming or going according to which hand? If it is the left yoy receive money, if it is  the right you pay out?

Saint Christopher Medal:

A Saint Christopher medal can be found in a Italians car, he is the patron saint of motorists, he allegedly protect his fellow driver.

Visting Family and Friends:

Never ever go to anyones house empty handed, always, always bring something, to show your repect and graitude for them welcoming you into their homes.

I hope you all enjoy these. Looking back on all these makes me smile, and I thank the lord everyday that I was born Italian and brought up with such a wonderful loving Italian Family.  And even thought many have passed on who taught these superstitions, they will always be passed down from generation to generation. Because that is the Italian way. Viva Italia!!!!!!