For Christmas this year, NIAF is highlighting a few of Christmas traditions from each of Italy’s 20 regions, that perhaps is carried on in your Italian American family or is a new tradition you’d like to start.
The second biggest island in the Mediterranean Sea after Sicily, Sardinia is a tourist destination during the summer months for its breath-taking beaches, however, the winter months shouldn’t be overlooked: warm weather thanks to the Mediterranean climate, the tourists are gone, and delicious season cuisine you can only taste during winter.
A Coral Christmas Tree
The Sardinian city of Alghero is known for its ruby red coral, locally called “red gold,” due to the wealth it produces for the local economy. The coral belonging to the Corallium Rubrum species has been known since ancient times as one of the “finest in the whole Mediterranean.” So naturally, the city puts their spin on the traditional Christmas tree with their materials composing of red coral and lights in the historic center.
Those who go to Alghero during Christmas can still dine outside and soak in the Christmas lights, decorations and cheer.
Only 13 kilometers away from Alghero is the small town of Olmedo. In the church of Nostra Signore di Talia, you’ll find a nativity scene made entirely of bread with more than 160 characters, thanks to the handywork of the town’s bread artisans.
Torrone, a soft nougat made with almonds and walnuts, is a popular sweet easily found in the United States. Although the most well-known torrone factory is in Cremona, Sardinia also has an artisanal factory of its one in Tonara. Sardinians are faithful to their Tonara’s torrone, whose ingredients are sourced locally. Some of their products can be seen here. Also, if you happen to be in Sardinia over Easter, Tonara has its own Torrone festival.
During the months of November and December, a common Sardinian tradition and celebration is Cortes Apertas, which means ‘open courtyards.’ Artists and shops in small villages inland open up their houses and shops to show off their home-made goods. These goods can vary from pastries and fresh pasta to beautiful jewelry and impressive furniture made out of beautiful, aromatic juniper wood.
An informal market, guests are often offered a glass of local wine, a piece of salami, or perhaps a festive sweet made out of nuts and honey. It is considered rude not to accept so if you choose a village with a long main street, be prepared to have your stomach full and many gifts in tow.
This Sardinian cookie is fruity and nutty with white icing and rainbow sprinkles on top. Iconic for its diamond shape, papassinas are popular during the Christmas season as well as the Day of the Dead in November.
The cookie has a variety of spellings (papassini, papassinos, or pabassinos) as the root of the word papassa, in Sardinian dialect, means raisins—one of the main ingredients in dessert. The cookie has different variations, for instance, one recipe includes a grape syrup called “sapa” in the dough. Try Giallo Zafferano‘s recipe to make papassinas a fun and delicious addition to your holiday cookie tray.
To see beautiful scenes of Sardinia during the Christmas season, view @Lauralaccabadora on Instagram or visit: https://www.instagram.com/lauralaccabadora/.
Stay tuned for more Christmas in Italy posts! If you want NIAF to share a tradition, email us a description at email@example.com.