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Christmas Day in Italy

Many Italians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas Day (Natale) on December 25 each year. It is a public holiday in Italy. 

The Nativity scene (presepe) is seen outside many churches in Italy around Christmas.
The Nativity scene (presepe) is seen outside many churches in Italy around Christmas.
©iStockphoto.com/Dieter Hawlan

What do people do?

In Italy the Christmas season lasts for a few weeks up until Epiphany. It is common practice for Italian children write letters to Babbo Natale (Father Christmas) asking for Christmas presents. Christmas meals include:

  • Lo zampone (skin of a lower pig leg filled with minced meat)
  • Il cotechino (sausage, similar to salami)
  • Turkey
  • Lamb
  • Tortellini (ring-shaped pasta)
  • Il panettone (fruitcake)
  • Bombardino (a popular drink similar to eggnog)

Another popular Christmas activity is the “urn of fate”, in which presents are put into a lucky dip and there is one gift per person. However, gift-exchanging also occurs on Epiphany.

Public life

Christmas Day is a national public holiday in Italy. Organizations and businesses that are closed include:

  • Government offices.
  • Post offices.
  • Banks.
  • Schools and other educational institutions.

Transport options, such as taxis, rail services between major cities and major long-route bus lines, are available but travelers are advised to check routes and timetables with the local transport authorities.


Italian Christmas traditions are based on Christianity but are also traced further back to the Pagan celebrations of Pagan celebrations of Saturnalia and Natalis Invicti, pre-dating Christianity. Christmas today is a worldwide celebration among Christians.


The presepe (Nativity scene) is often seen outdoors, particularly outside churches. The Nativity scene is popular custom that has spread across to many countries. The Ceppo (a Yule log) is also burnt during Christmas and must stay lighted until New Year’s Day.

About Christmas Day in other countries

Read more about Christmas Day.

Christmas Day Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday type
TueDec 251990Christmas DayNational holiday
WedDec 251991Christmas DayNational holiday
FriDec 251992Christmas DayNational holiday
SatDec 251993Christmas DayNational holiday
SunDec 251994Christmas DayNational holiday
MonDec 251995Christmas DayNational holiday
WedDec 251996Christmas DayNational holiday
ThuDec 251997Christmas DayNational holiday
FriDec 251998Christmas DayNational holiday
SatDec 251999Christmas DayNational holiday
MonDec 252000Christmas DayNational holiday
TueDec 252001Christmas DayNational holiday
WedDec 252002Christmas DayNational holiday
ThuDec 252003Christmas DayNational holiday
SatDec 252004Christmas DayNational holiday
SunDec 252005Christmas DayNational holiday
MonDec 252006Christmas DayNational holiday
TueDec 252007Christmas DayNational holiday
ThuDec 252008Christmas DayNational holiday
FriDec 252009Christmas DayNational holiday
SatDec 252010Christmas DayNational holiday
SunDec 252011Christmas DayNational holiday
TueDec 252012Christmas DayNational holiday
WedDec 252013Christmas DayNational holiday
ThuDec 252014Christmas DayNational holiday
FriDec 252015Christmas DayNational holiday
SunDec 252016Christmas DayNational holiday
MonDec 252017Christmas DayNational holiday
TueDec 252018Christmas DayNational holiday
WedDec 252019Christmas DayNational holiday
FriDec 252020Christmas DayNational holiday

Quick Facts

Christmas Day is a public holiday in Italy on December 25 to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

Christmas Day 2015

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Day 2016

Sunday, December 25, 2016


Name in other languages

Christmas DayEnglish
List of dates for other years

Related holidays

Other holidays in December 2015 in Italy

Other calendars

Related links