Finally! Today is Sunday! Pizza day!
Max and Lisa run out of their rooms, down the stairs, and straight into the kitchen. “Mmmmm, that smells so good!” Max looks into the oven. “Don’t do that, Max!” Mom says, “You’re letting out the heat. Now you’ll have to wait even longer for the pizza to be done.” “All right,” Max waits patiently at the kitchen table.
Lisa asks, “How do they actually celebrate Christmas in Italy?”
“I can explain that,” Dad says as he sets the table. “I used to have an Italian friend. His name was Guiseppe. He lived in Rome. I used to visit him there quite a few times. Italians refer to Christmas as Bambino Gesù,” Dad shares. “Ha ha!” Max chuckles at the name. “Keep it down, Max!” shouts Lisa. “So,” Dad continues, “On Christmas Eve, December 24, just like us, they set up the Christmas tree and the Christmas nativity. They fast the entire day.” “What does ‘fast’ mean?” Lisa asks curiously. “Well, it means they don’t eat anything all day,” Max explains. “That’s right,” Dad confirms. “And then in the evening, they eat together with the family, usually including fish and panettone, a kind of raisin cake. On Christmas Day, they all go to church together,” Dad adds.
“Do they receive presents?” Lisa asks.
“They usually get their presents on January 6, on the Feast of the Magi. The night before, a kind witch named Befana flies from house to house on her broomstick, distributing presents. The well-behaved children receive presents, while the naughty ones get only ashes and coal. Since Befana enters homes through the chimney, she’s always covered in soot,” Dad explains.
Max chuckles, “Well, Lisa, you better watch out, or you’ll wake up with a sooty nose on January 6.”
“Pizza’s ready!” Mom announces, and everyone rushes to the table.
“Buon Natale,” Dad says, smiling. “That’s Italian for Merry Christmas.”