Aktualizace: 15. pro 2020
Right now I am sitting with Giorgo, my friend from Italy. He is a native Sicilian. We are in a famous pub for young people in Catania. It is called Ostello. We are drinking an Aperol Spritz. There are people all around us. The music is nice. And we are beginning our interview.
Do you believe in Santa Claus or in some figure, that brings gifts to you?
Well of course I don’t believe in Santa Claus as a real figure. But I think it is an identification mean. For example all the parents of the world give some gifts to their children for Christmas. It is derived from the tradition of the Three Kings and Jesus Christ. Then thanks to the word of advice to make some advertising marketing parents rely on some person as Santa Claus.
So what is a typical figure that brings gifts here in Italy? Is it Santa Claus? Or is it some other figure?
No, it is Babbo Natale. It means literally the Christmas Father. Don’t you know the big red drummed man?
But that is a definition of Santa Claus, isn’t it?
Yeah. It is the translation of Santa Claus in Italian. But it is not the right translation. Because actually the translation would be St. Nicolas. St. Nicolas is in the tradition the saint that took gifts for the children. And for this reason he took this role, but it has been made cooler and more comfortable for children (to have Santa Claus) because you know it is the colour of red that is connected with marketing and Coca-Cola and so on.
Do you celebrate here in Sicily, because Sicily, Sardinia and other 3 northernmost regions in Italy have a special status, let’s talk only about the Sicily, St. Nicolas Day? And if yes, when and how? Because St. Nicolas Day is normally celebrated in Czech republic as well.
No. In Sicily, well there are some places, it depends on the place, or on a village, where St. Nicolas is the patron. They above all celebrate St. Nicolas as a saint patron, not as Santa Claus.
Because for example in Czech republic we do celebrate St. Nicolas day on 6th of December and we do receive gifts but only in a form of some sweets.
Really similar tradition is here on 6th of January. We celebrate Befana. Befana is a sort of a witch, that arrives only this day and takes some candies for a child she considers to have behaved well during all the year. If the child behaved badly she will give the child only coal. Because there is a Christian legend about this. It was told that the Tree Kings before going to Jesus Christ asked this girls to come with them. But she refused at the beginning. But after it she felt so guilty and decided to go. She took a flight over the whole world giving children sweets and candies hoping that Jesus Christ will receive some of those as well.
So is it like baba Yaga?
It is like baba Yaga.
Do you look forward for Christmas?
Yes, hm, actually I do. But to tell the truth, I prefere the pre-Christmas celebration. It is so magical. But I do love the day as well.
How will you celebrate the whole Christmas days?
Well, normally I plan to spend it with my family. But it is not the case of this year. I will organize a lunch. I will maybe organize an international Christmas this year. Who knows? Because also there is my birthday during Christmas celebrations and then there is the New Year’s Eve. So it is a lot of feasts during this time. And then I have to study for the exams. You know.
From what date until when do you have a national Christmas holiday. On which day do you start it?
Usually we start the Christmas period on 8th of December. We normally decorate the Christmas tree. Because we celebrate the conception of the virgin. She conceived without any sin. And herself, she is the only girl, the only person, not related to the trinity, that has not commited the primal sin. You know.
But she is not the only person.
Also Shmi from Star Wars.
Ok, great. What do you actually imagine, when I say a word Vánoce, Christmas?
What do I think? I think I am a lot of a consumerist. Because I think about the decoration and the Christmas tree. But if I had to elevate and to purify my spirit, I would say, it is a Christmas spirit, reunions, meeting, family, all those things. But the first thing that comes to my mind is the snow, shopping, crazy shopping and so on. You know.
Do you celebrate advent Sundays here in Sicily?
I don’t, but usually there are the traditions to go to a mess and there you can light up a candle. But it is not quite traditional you know. It is a very spread and not that popular tradition.
How many decorations do the Italians use here in Sicily?
Both from the outside and from the inside?
Well there are people who light up the whole house. The balcony and their terrace. And there are people who decorate only the inside. For example the people who take Santa Claus figures outside the balcony, all those things. For example personally I do decorate a lot from the inside and almost nothing from the outside. You know. Usually we use as a decoration the Christmas tree. And the representations of the birth of the Jesus Christ. But also I use to build a Christmas village.
How does the Christmas look like in your family. Normally? Do you have your own traditions?
Yeah. For example we eat a lot. Normally we have to cook more than we eat. Everything is only about this. And then at midnight there is a nice tradition to do a cheer. Yeah. And to make wishes to all the guests we have.
Is your celebrating of Christmas somewhat different from the rest of the Sicily?
§ Well, I think it is. For example, should I make up some categories, It is more different for the people that live in villages than for the people that live in cities. In little villages it is more common to have a very big tables and to invite all the family. Here for example I only celebrate it with my grandparents and with my cousins. But it isn’t many people, 10 or 12. And then there is a tradition to celebrate in 2 days. Firstly we celebrate it with my mother’s relatives and secondly we celebrate it with my father’s relatives.
Is there a difference in celebrating Christmas here in Sicily except from the difference between a village and a city? And is there a difference between the north of Italy and the south of Italy?
Oh well. I don’t think so. For example we can maybe differ the southern Italy and the northern Italy. But not among the regions. For example there is a difference in eating sweets during Christmas eve. But not a difference in traditions. Regarding Christmas, we as Italy are finally united.
How do you think Covid-19 will (or did) impact this year’s Christmas celebrating?
Well, a nice question. Because no one can know. Because it depends on the spread of the virus and on the restrictions. For now we only know that we cannot celebrate Christmas for example outside. Although restaurants are open. But you have to reserve it a lot in advance and they are only open during the day. So I think this will affect it.