Christmas in Sicily is a festive occasion, packed full of traditions and customs that make it a very special time. Cool temperatures means that the focus shifts away from the beach and swimming and into the heart of the local village or town where locals keep the Christmas spirit alive and kicking.
Many homes and the vast majority of churches in Sicily display a presepe (nativity scene). In some cases, these are ‘Presepi viventi’ – living nativity scenes where locals dress up and re-enact the Nativity between Christmas Day and Epiphany with the privilege of representing baby Jesus bestowed upon the youngest baby in the village. Those at Ispica in south east Sicily, and Custonaci, in north west Sicily, are amongst the most dramatic.
Epiphany and La Befana
6th January marks the end of the Christmas festivities but another reason for children to celebrate, thanks to the arrival of the witch-like La Befana, who hands out sweets to children who have been good and lumps of coal (actually black sugar lumps) to those who have not. Siculiana celebrates the traditional “Carovana dei Re Magi” (photo), a historical procession of the Court of Aragon of Catania, in memory of the three Magi visiting Baby Jesus. Read more about La Befana >>.
Sweets and treats
It will come as no surprise that tables overflowing with edible goodies figure high in Sicily’s Christmas celebrations. Pasta al forno is a classic favourite for Christmas Eve whilst amongst the traditional sweet treats, there is panettone and buccellati (a glazed round cake filled with almonds, pistachios and dried fruit).
Christmas is a great time to visit Sicily. Crowds are virtually non-existent and you can get to experience a more authentic side to the island. Take a look at some of the villas below for ideas on Christmas and New Year getaways.
Villa Arte Mare Blue >> nestles in stunning countryside on the edge of the Madonie National Park where local traditions in the towns of Isnello and Collesano include the lighting of large bonfires, to keep baby Jesus warm, on the night of the Luminari (24 December). With space for ten, the villa is perfect for a large family gathering, with a billiard room and lounge with open fireplace.
With a games room and an indoor spa area featuring a large Jacuzzi and Turkish bath, Kuparissos >> is an ideal choice for a Christmas getaway. Situated just a few miles from Agrigento, you can also enjoy the thrill of visiting the Valley of The Temples without the crowds!