Christmas in Puglia – what to expect

In Puglia, Christmas traditions are rich and rooted in both religious and cultural customs. At The Emporium, we are holding craft workshops during the first two weeks of December. Some items are traditional to the region, whilst others are from the mix of nations represented by the community. Here are some key aspects of Christmas traditions in the region for you to discover:

Feast of the Immaculate Conception (Festa dell’Immacolata Concezione)
– December 8th marks the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a religious holiday that celebrates the belief in the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary.
– In Puglia, this day is often associated with religious observances, including church services, processions, and the decoration of nativity scenes.

Nativity Scenes (Presepi)
– Puglia is known for its elaborate nativity scenes, which are an essential part of Christmas decorations.
– These presepi often feature intricate miniature figures representing the Holy Family, shepherds, angels, and various characters from the region’s traditions.

Lighting of Bonfires (Falo)
– In some parts of Puglia, especially in the countryside, it’s a tradition to light bonfires on the evening of December 8th.
– These bonfires are not only a symbol of the holiday but also serve as a way for the community to come together, socialise, and enjoy the warmth of the fire.

Feasting and Traditional Foods
– As in many Italian regions, Christmas is a time for indulging in delicious food. Traditional Puglian dishes might include seafood, pasta, and various sweets like cartellate (fried dough spirals drizzled with honey) and pettole (deep-fried dough balls).
– Some families also have a special Christmas Eve meal, known as the “Feast of the Seven Fishes” (Festa dei Sette Pesci), which is a seafood-based feast.

La Befana
– La Befana is an important character in Italian Christmas folklore. She is often referred to as “The Christmas Witch” or “The Good Witch.”
– On the night of January 5th, La Befana is said to visit children’s homes and fill their stockings with gifts and sweets if they have been good or with coal or garlic if they have been naughty.
– While not exclusive to Puglia, La Befana is celebrated throughout Italy and is an integral part of the Christmas season.

These traditions in Puglia reflect the region’s blend of religious and cultural influences, making Christmas a special and joyous time for families and communities. Come and visit us and experience them first hand!

Monique Chambers
Monique Chambers

A magazine editor by trade, Monique's passion is to promote beautifully made and upcycled things and the artisans that create them. Free time is her biggest indulgence, when she can tinker in her craft room or the kitchen, or be selfish with a book, the sofa and good glass of wine (of course, wearing something fabulous and with freshly coiffed hair!)