Christmas in Rome
So many tales are told in Rome, regarding the most Joyous Holiday in Christianity, including that it was a pagan winter solstice holiday Saturnalia which Emperor Constantine transformed into Christmas as we know it today but today we are not going to talk about the rumors, we will concentrate on the Eternal City’s Celebrations and where to go while in Rome from 25th December to 6th January.
The decorations of the city start usually weeks before the date. Lights, stars, and ornaments are placed between the streetlights. Major public squares like Piazza Navona, Piazza del Popolo, The Spanish Steps, and of course Piazza San Pietro or St Peters square have tall, well embellished Christmas trees, with a scene of Nativity and lights decorations.
PIAZZA NAVONA’S ANNUAL CHRISTMAS FAIR
Ancient stadium turned into a beautiful public square, with 15 century, baroque churches, and fountains, is the site of annual Christmas Fair. It is a true sight to see with all the statuettes, cribs, nativity figurines, gifts, sweets, balloons and so much more. The most popular items are statutes of a good witch Befana who is thought to be an old woman with torn cloths, who like Santa Claus, filling good kids’ stockings with candy and black coal to naughty ones. Black coal candy is made from sugar and colouring. Other than this, the most famous, traditional Roman sweets are torrone (nougat with almonds and honey) and panettone (high bread with dried fruits and nuts).
A Carousel with horses for kids, performers of different arts and magicians make the atmosphere very much festive.It opens from December 8th and closes on January 6th at 1 am.
WHAT TO DO IN ROME ON CHRISTMAS
Other than annual Christmas Fair, one can enjoy the site seeing trough out all the churches since each has a nativity scene and decorations.
Monuments, museums, and archaeological sites such as Castell Sant’Angelo, Galleria Borghese, famous Colosseum and the Vatican Museums are open until 24th December and are closed on 25th and 26th December. Clothes shops close for 25th and 26th as well.
Tradition is to go on the Christmas mass. The biggest Christmas mass is in Basilica of St Peter and the tickets for it are reserved. The last day for filing the ticket reservation form and sending it to the Prefecture of the Papal household in Rome is on 8th December. One can also participate the mass outside on the St Peters square via huge monitors.
If you don’t like the crowd, The Christmas mass in Pantheon is perfect for you and your kids.
Although tradition says that a family comes together for a traditional Christmas Day lunch, many eat out in Rome’s restaurants which provide a rich menu filled with traditional dishes from all over Italy. Others than food, red Wine is obligatory.
In the typical Italian home, on Christmas day dishes are served such as Gnocchi alla Romana, Minestra con l’Arzilla which is bread, broccoli, red pepper, broken spaghetti, cherry tomatoes and grated pecorino cheese, Coda alla Vaccinara or ox tail stew and served with vegetables and a sweet-sour sauce, Abbacchio which is lamb, garlic, ham cut into small pieces and cooked with rosemary with a good Roman wine. Mulsum is often used which is ancient wine made since imperial Rome with honey and spices.
Founded in 1984 by a circus dynasty heiress Liana Orfei, International Festival by the name Golden Circus is very popular in Holiday season. It is open from 25th December thru 6th January.
Some say that the walk among ancient scents of the ciders, lights and beauty of Rome’s architecture are enough to breathe in the magic Eternal city provides.
To all that celebrate Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
If you like this tale perhaps you may enjoy another