I’ve always loved the Christmas Holidays both here and in the U.S. I have to admit, however, that in Italy there’s a much more festive feeling for a longer period and so many more traditions.
There are two i’d like to mention. One is the live Nativity representation in Barga on December 23 and one, more falily oriented, is making the coockies called befanotti, wich the Befana gives to children who’ve been “good” during the year. If they haven’t, they get charcoal.
The Nativity representation in Barga take place every year on December 23 starting after 9 p.m. It takes place trhough Barga’s lovely historic center and ends at the cathedral at about midnight when the bells ring out announcing the birth of baby Jesus. Everyone follows the two people representing Joseph and mary as they walk from hostelry to hosterly aking if there is room in the inn for them. Jospeh and mary are enacted by a young couple from the town. They are, of course dressed in period costumes and i have to say how well made the are. People follow them and the donkey and as they walk through the town, they can watch various crafts being dine by carpenters, shoemakers and weavers, al dressed in period costumes. Of course there are people roasting chestnuts over an open fire, making sausages and also the pancakes called necci and frittelle which are made from chestnut flour.
Nothing isa charged for. You are only asked to make a small offering to cover the expenses of organizing suach am important event.
Making befanotti i san important family tradition, especially for those living in the villages in the mountains. These are a kind of butter cookie made in various shake such as the Befana, animals, stars and trees. The Befana then distributes them through the village on the eve of the Epiphany.