First Italian Christmas


I’ve seen several friends share a little phrase on social media this week.

That bit between Christmas and New Year when you don’t know what day it is,  who you are,  or what you’re supposed to be doing.

Amen. This time between Christmas and New Years is a tricky time for me.   I’m someone who loves routine and productivity and this break makes me go a little nutty.

Our neighborhood has been really quiet with most people on vacation.   The university students don’t fill the streets anymore and the town center is much less crowded than normal.  Bonus: grocery store trips are faster since the one open register doesn’t have a line anymore.

We’ve hunkered down inside in attempts to rest and overcome this never ending sickness –  colds,  coughs and whatever infection Lana was hit with.

The cold has settled in outside too.  Fog and wet cold make 36 degrees seem so much colder than a Minnesota 36.

The break here goes until January 7th since the 6th is when Italians celebrate the Befana – the Christmas witch.  Here’s how her tradition started:

The story is that la Befana was approached by the Three Wise Men who asked her to lead them to the stable where the baby Jesus lay in a manger. La Befana was too busy cleaning her house at the time, so she declined the offer to go with them. Very soon she realized that she had made a huge mistake, so she gathered up a bag full of gifts and set off alone in search of the baby Jesus. Though she followed the same star as the Magi, she was unable to find the stable. Undaunted, la Befana continues to travel the world over to this day searching every house for the Christ child.


Other than Befana,  and the need to wear red underwear on New Year’s Eve, Christmas celebrations are about the same as in America.  Christmas trees,  lights, family and food.  And of course celebrating the birth of Jesus.  Most Italians are Catholic,  so they also celebrated the immaculate conception of Mary in early December.


While Italians normally eat a fish dinner on Christmas Eve,  we celebrated with fondue –  which is a Gray family tradition.  This year we also added a late night visit to a pediatrician for Lana.


All of the Grays who live in Italy slept over on air mattresses upstairs Christmas Eve night.  It was a crazy present opening frenzy that was over way too fast.  We tried to do one gift at a time,  but it soon became a blur of paper and presents.

We spent a lazy day at our house playing games, eating,  and watching a movie. Then we took a quiet evening to ourselves.

And now here we are still laying around.

While I’m not good at relaxing, I know I need to take advantage of it now while I can.  Lana,  Mariah and I will all be in school after the break.  Our days will look very different.  I’m got a whole blog saved up to explain our upcoming changes…

So today,  maybe I’ll break out a book and sip some tea (and cough syrup) and just embrace the lazy relaxation.

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