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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Italy Series at ItalianPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Italian holidays and observances. I’m Becky, and you're listening to Season 1 Lesson 2, Christmas.
Almost everyone is familiar with Christmas, but do you know that in Italy it’s the most important festival of the year?
Christmas is above all a Catholic festival; in fact, it coincides with the birth of Jesus Christ, but in reality the origins of this festival are much older. Today even non-believers celebrate it. In this lesson, we’ll talk about how Italians celebrate Christmas.
Now, before we go into more detail, we’ve got a question for you- Do you know why the price of the fish increases dramatically before Christmas in Italy?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
In Italian homes, Christmas preparations begin long before December 25. It’s a tradition to start decorating the Christmas tree, whether its fake or real fir, from December 8. In many homes, mainly in southern Italy, families prepare a nativity scene representing the birth of Jesus in addition to the tree. There are various traditions for this, but the most famous is one from Naples. In Via San Gregorio Armeno, there is a permanent market with the nativity scene which can be visited all year.
Meanwhile, in many cities in northern Italy, Christmas markets are held from December 8 to January 6. Among the most famous are those of Trento and Bolzano, where you can buy decorations, gifts, and various kinds of sweets. Among the most traditional Christmas sweets is the torrone, which is simple but delicious, and made with egg whites, sugar, honey, almonds, hazelnuts, and pistachios.
For Italians, the most important moment of Christmas is the Christmas Eve dinner. Usually everyone goes back to their parents’ house to eat together and wait for midnight. Dinner almost always involves fish. The most typical dish is the codfish. Among the treats are panettone, a sweet bread from Milan, and pandoro, a sweet bread from Verona. Finally at midnight the exchange of the gifts under the Christmas tree takes place. Naturally, this is the moment Italian children are most eager for.
For many years Italians have also been very fond of the so-called “cine-panettone," a comic film broadcast every year during the winter holidays.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
Do you know why the price of fish increases dramatically before Christmas in Italy?
It’s because everyone wants to eat it! In fact, according to Catholic tradition, it’s good to fast and especially to avoid eating meat on December 24 as a sign of respect for Jesus, who was born in poverty.
Well listeners, how was this lesson? Did you learn something new?
In your country, is Christmas an important holiday?
Leave a comment telling us at ItalianPod101.com, and I’ll see you in the next lesson!


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Monday at 6:30 pm
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In your country, is Christmas an important holiday?

Wednesday at 1:15 pm
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Hi Mauricio,

Grazie per il commento! Thank you for posting!

Se hai domande, facci sapere. If you have questions, let us know.


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Tuesday at 9:38 am
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Buon giorno, in my country (Peru) it is very important.


Wednesday at 7:52 pm
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Ciao Kassio,

Thank you very much for leaving the comment.

If you have any questions, please let us know.


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Friday at 11:42 pm
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Hello! Yes, I think it is a very important holiday. In Brazil, most people celebrate this great holiday. In addition to the religious part, this is a great opportunity to bring together the whole family and have dinner. In addition, it should be noted that cities become more beautiful with Christmas decorations!

Friday at 11:40 pm
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Ciao! Sì, penso che sia una festa molto importante. In Brasile, la maggior parte delle persone celebrare questa grande festa. Oltre alla parte religiosa, si tratta di una grande opportunità per riunire tutta la famiglia e cenare insieme. Inoltre, si deve notare che le città diventano più belle con la decorazioni natalizie!

Friday at 3:23 pm
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Ciao Michael,

Thank you, that is interesting!

Thanksgiving in Italian is "il Ringraziamento"....so "Buon Ringraziamento!" (Have a nice Thanksgiving!)


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Thursday at 2:12 pm
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Yes probably the most important holiday even though Thanksgiving represents some of the birth of the US

Thursday at 12:48 pm
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Hi Eslith,

Thank you so much for your interesting post!



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Monday at 12:09 am
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In Mexico Christmas is a very important holiday, every year one month before Christmas the whole neighborhood gather together and start making plans for the big event, when Christmas finally arrives the whole street from the neighborhood closes and we have a big party, we have Posadas, Piñatas, bonfire, and lots of food. I really love those special days....

Tuesday at 11:19 am
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Ciao João Guilherme Marques,

Thank you for the comment. I personally used to think the same, but I changed opinion, when I had to spend Christmas away from Italy. Certain things become clear only when they are missing... :smile:

Grazie e a presto!


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