Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Holiday Season in Italy: Feast of the Immaculate Conception

The season of holiday shopping in Italy may begin as early as the end of November, but the true kick-off of the the Christmas season for Christians in Italy begins on December 8th with The Feast of the Immaculate Conception. 

                                 credit: Swide

                                                                                                            credit: Swide

For Catholics, the day celebrates the Virgin Mary being born free of the original sin that has afflicted mankind.

The feast day is a national holiday and a holy day of obligation in Italy. Government offices, banks, schools and post offices are closed and Catholics celebrate the Virgin Mary by attending Holy Mass at their favorite church.

                        credit: Italian Language blog

But, it doesn't stop there; it's also the day for setting up the nativity scene, putting up the Christmas tree and stringing up the holiday lights. And, let's not forget shopping! Many shops are open, decorated and welcoming in holiday shoppers.

The day is also celebrated by emotional processions, parades, fireworks, lighting of the traditional bonfire and...holiday foods.

                                 credit: Swide
                                                                                                         credit: Abruzzo4foodies

December 8th, The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, is a day of celebrating the blessed Virgin Mary, but is especially a day for being with family and enjoying the love and joy of the holiday together.

What a wonderful and special day to be in Italy!

Watch this beautiful video of The Feast of the Immaculate Conception in Naples, Italy!

And...A musical Christmas in Italy video.  

Ciao e Buon Natale!
- Nina Spitzer

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Monday, December 7, 2015

Holiday Season in Italy: "Oh Bej! Oh Bej!" in Milan

(credit: Vita da Mamma)

Natale or Christmas season is a busy, festive time in Italy. It's a time of celebrations, decorations, religious services, gifts, and food. Each region and town has its own special way of celebrating Natale and enjoying the season. What a wonderful time of year to visit Italy and buy some beautiful and unique gifts while there!

In Milan, December 7th is the annual celebration of the city's patron saint, Sant'Ambrogio. Religious celebrations in honor of the saint take place all over the city, but especially at the Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio. 

(credit: Panoramio)

AND - The most important fair of the year, "Oh bej! Oh bej!" ("Oh beautiful! Oh beautiful!" - pronounced "O-bay! O-bay!"), coincides with the celebration of the saint's day. 

(credit: Milan Today)

The festival takes place in and around the Sforza Castle and where you will find over 400 merchant stalls just begging for a look.  

(credit: Girando il Mondo)

Happy holiday shoppers stroll the stalls eyeing the many handmade crafts, flowers, toys, ornaments, bric-a-brac, antiques, clothes and (of course) a variety of FOODS - cured meats, cheeses, sweets, wines and more. Music and the aroma of roasting chestnuts fill the air.

Watch a video of "Oh bej! Oh bej!"

What a wonderful way to start out the holiday season!

- Nina Spitzer

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