Throughout the region the magic of Christmas celebrations revives every year thanks to the many festivals dedicated to adults and children: Living Nativity, Christmas markets, typical food festivals.
One of the most famous Christmas traditions is certainly that of the nativity scene.
Every year the living crib is set in Greccio, in the province of Rieti, inside the cave that San Francesco chose to commemorate the Nativity. It is right here that the tradition of the Nativity was born. This event is preceded by a parade of characters from the crib, who will parade through the center on December 17.
In Rieti, on December 21st, the magnificent eighteenth-century crib in the cathedral will be exposed to the public under the arches of the Papal Palace.
Among the other interesting nativity scenes to visit in Lazio, we suggest the Living Nativity in Corchiano (VT), in the splendid naturalistic setting of the famous “Forre”, and that of Serrano (FR) which constitutes the largest living nativity scene in Lazio, with well 130 characters that will transform the entire historic center into a single animated nativity scene.
Others Christmas attractions in Lazio are the Christmas markets.
In Viterbo, the traditional Christmas market take place in the center. You can find everything at attractive prices on the stalls. You will then find, in Piazza della Morte, a vast selection of delicacies and in Piazza della Fontana Grande an antique market. You will have the opportunity to visit the ancient medieval village of San Pellegrino, a place of great charm. Moreover, for the Epiphany, a the citizens are preparing a special event to enter in the Records Guinness Book! From year to year a sock for the Epiphany is made longer and longer for this purpose. The stocking will start from Piazza San Sisto at 2.30 pm on 5 January 2020 with a band, majorettes and flag-wavers.
In Rieti an ice skating rink will be built in Piazza San Francesco and on 28 and 29 December a climbing wall will be set in a square.
Another curious and picturesque custom, called “Le Tentavecchie“, takes place in Gradoli (VT) in the three evenings preceding the Epiphany. Around 9 pm a crowd spills out onto the central square with the most extravagant and deafening instruments, to form an orchestra that runs through the streets of the village producing an infernal din. The origin of this strange custom, perhaps pagan, perhaps Christian, is uncertain, but the aim would be to awaken the old Befana to encourage it to bring gifts to the children.
As for the ancient Christmas culinary traditions in Lazio, let us remember that the Christmas Eve dinner had to be strictly lean based on fish and pasta with anchovies or tuna, but to enrich it was used to serve as an appetizer a generous fry battered with broccoli, apples, cod, thistles and eel – a sort of marinated eel. On Christmas day, instead, meat was dominated: broccoli and rind soup was served, capon broth with cappelletti and boiled meat. Inevitable then the chicory with anchovy sauce.