Christmas in Valle D’Aosta: Cup of Friendship, Midnight Ski Parades and Christmas Markets

For Christmas this year, NIAF is highlighting a few of Christmas traditions from each of Italy’s 20 regionsthat perhaps is carried on in your Italian American family or is a new tradition you’d like to start.

Valle d’Aosta is the smallest and least populous region, located in north-western Italy. Valle d’Aosta means ‘Valley of Augustus,’ after the Roman Emperor Augustus who seized the area for its strategic mountain passes in about 25 BC and established Augusta Prætoria Salassorum (modern-day Aosta).

The Cup of Friendship & Aosta Valley Coffee

La Coppa dell’Amicizia e il caffè alla valdostana

The region has a tradition of communally drinking Aosta Valley coffee, especially during the Christmas season, from la Coppa dell’Amicizia, the Cup of Friendship, which is a low, pot-bellied wooden bowl with a lid and several spouts. The Aosta Valley coffee is called il caffè alla valdostana and is not dissimilar to mulled wine or a hot toddy–essentially a blend of coffee, grappa and spices. During Christmas and winter gatherings, the cup of friendship is passed around family and friends to sip from. La Cucina Italiana has a recipe worthy to try.

Torchlight Ski Parades During Christmas and the New Year

It’s always a white Christmas in Valle D’Aosta so traditional torchlight skiing processions are the norm! Various parades set against breathtaking views of the Alps and take place in towns across the region from late December to early January.

The organized parades start after dark, torches flank the sides of the paths, and are led by ski guides who descend to the towns, where the procession continues through the streets to arrive at a designated piazza or building. Once there, the parade is done and there is always a celebration, whether that is involving fireworks, mulled wine, tea, panettone, music for dancing, or all of the above. The most festive of torchlight ski parade parties usually takes place on New Year’s Eve. In early January, a children’s torchlight ski parade is usually organized.

For more details, read Italy Magazine’s piece from 2012.

Christmas Market – Marché Vert Noël

Although canceled this year, the region is already looking forward to hosting the Marché Vert Noël from late November 2021 to January 6th, 2022. The seasonal Christmas Market is located in the archaeological area of Aosta’s Roman Theater, which was built in the late reign of Augustus, some decades after he conquered the city (25 BC). It was restored in 2009 and since 2011, the theatre is used for music shows and theatrical performances.

Visitors can stroll along the “streets” of the village and buy eccentric gifts, wine, local food, and handcrafted objects. Handcrafted products include candles, soap, ceramics, wooden objects, felt and boiled wood accessories, Christmas decorations, laces, objects decorated using découpage techniques.

Stay tuned for more Christmas in Italy posts! If you want NIAF to share a tradition, email us a description at

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