Merry Christmas! Or… “Buon Natale!” in italian. Sicily, an Italian region, has a very traditional Christmas day, which includes a very very long lunch and a family reunion for more or less of twelve hours on the 25th of December. Our day begin with “Let’s go, wake up, we have to go to the grandma’s house!”. Yes, because Christmas Day in Sicily means a day with all the relatives: grandma and granpa for first, and uncles, aunts, cousins, brothers and sisters, parents, and sometimes family friends. For the lunch we are at least twenty-five people, in a long red table with a lot of food for everybody. Well, if you compare with our normal lunch time (13.00 – 13.30 am), Christmas lunch is in advance: if you want to be polite, you have to arrive for at least 12.00 am, to help and support the women who cook everything for everyone. Men are always the firsts who catch some food from the kitchen before the lunch begins. From 12.00 to 13.30 there is the social moment, when everything is alright and children are happy and they play among them.
Then the Christmas lunch starts: we have food for every taste! The starters are various and colorful: olives and black bread for first, several kind of cheese, ready-sliced meat, salted codfish in batter, artichoke in batter and also broccoli in batter, potato’s omelette and red wine. Are you hungry? Ok, let’s go on with the main dishes: a delicious pasta with tomato sauce, veal meat with tomato sauce, sausages, ossobuco (italian veal dish), polpettone, boiled carrots and peas. It is not the end! We have fruits and sweets. Let’s sit and let’s go on with food! Every kind of fruits (bananas, oranges, apples and so on); and such sweets: cannoli (Cannoli consist of tube-shaped shells of fried pastry dough, filled with a sweet, creamy filling usually containing ricotta ), babbà (A rum baba is a small yeast cake saturated in syrup made with hard liquor, usually rum, and sometimes filled with whipped cream or pastry cream), spicy homemade biscuits and, last but not least, “cosi duci” (“sweet things” in Sicilian dialect), different forms of butter biscuits filled with prickly pear jam and covered by pieces of colored sugar.
After lunch we stay all together and play cards or tombola for all the Christmas afternoon, laughing, talking about everything, playing with children and crunching peanuts.
20:00 dinner time! You will eat again and again, all the leftovers from the lunch. One of the philosophy of life of sicilian traditional people is “We don’t throw away food, because food is sacred”. So you have to be sure that all the leftovers from the lunch will not be thrown away.
Christmas Day is a lovely day anyway. You can share an entire day with the people you love, and eat together is a symbol of conviviality and cohesion. Maybe this is the real sense of Christmas: to demonstrate in front of the society that you are a united family and you love each others so much to gaining weight together.
By Valeria Ferrante