All in Italian Holiday Guides
We can’t all spend Christmas in the best city in the world- and by that I mean Naples. Naples at Christmas is baroque. It is sensual. It smells like salted cod and tastes like cinnamon and almonds. The intricate nativity scenes for which Naples is famous may not accurately depict the birth of Jesus (pretty sure the magi were not there on the same night JC gasped his first breath) but they most assuredly capture the spirit of everyday life in Naples. In fact if you are in New York, you can visit a Neapolitan nativity at the Met this year. But if you are in Naples or feel like imagining you are, follow this simple Christmas walking guide, to experience the frenetic energy that is Napoli at Christmas. Follow the Sauced & Found google map above to stay on course.
Christmas Eve is a fish lovers dream across the South of Italy. In the days leading up to the holiday, fish markets across Naples work over time to keep up with demand. There are many nouveau preparations of old favorites. But classics are classics for a reason. Below is a by no means exhaustive guide to Neapolitan Christmas fish and their simple preparations!
Italy is ostensibly Catholic. We check liturgical calendars before leaving the house to determine what saint day it is and whether we need to wish a friend a congratulatory ‘auguri’ on any given day. Everyday is someone’s saint day after all, and some people even get to have more than one. Each day has a saint and each saint has a sweet. And while one can quibble as to how devout your average Italian is, the Advent season is without a doubt nationally celebrated occasion. But what is the Advent and what does it mean to the everyday Italian?
The holiday season is a magical time in Southern Italy. Confectionaries and nativity scenes beseech even the grinches among us to join in all the merriment. At the very least we don’t have to listen to Grandma Got Ran Over By a Reindeer and Feliz Navidad no less than 2,000 times until the Rose Bowl. Although in Italy you can also expect to here John Lennon belting And So Merry Christmas in the middle of July. In honor of the holiday season, below are five indispensible Neapolitan Christmas traditions. If you can’t make it here for Christmas, you can think of us as you enjoy another slog of Eggnog-which by the way- try explaining that one to the average Neapolitan!
There are some things you should know before spending New Years Eve in Naples or the Amalfi Coast. First, Neapolitans like to throw things--- lots of breakable things. When the clock strikes midnight toilets, teacups and everything in between are ritualistically thrown out of windows into heaps and heaps of shattered glass, porcelain and general flying shrapnel. Second, on New Years Eve we wear red underpants. And third, be prepared for a wild ride because in a town where breaking champagne magnums and then sporting red lingerie is par for the course, anything—AND I MEAN ANYTHING can happen. The Amalfi Coast is only slightly tamer than Naples. But it is still raucous, rollicking and fabulous in ways only the South of Italy can be at party times. For your reading leisure (and preparation), I have listed the top five New Years traditions in Naples and the Amalfi Coast below.
While shopping in Napoli is part of the holiday fun, you can still find many of our favorite regional items online. This is Sauced & Found’s top five gift picks for the holiday season. All are made in Italy. They are sure to remind the Italophile in your life of our Bella Napoli.
The Christmas meal in Naples and the province of Campania is a three-day marathon of eating. There is no way out of it. If you are invited to the home of a Neapolitan friend just beware—the antipasti is exactly that, just the first dish in a long series of many. Christmas Eve is all about Fish. The meal starts around 8PM and lasts late into the night. Some families attend midnight mass and many children receive their gifts at midnight. Baby Jesus also arrives in his nativity manger at this time.
Christmas Day is for Minestra Maritata, a slow cooked broth with winter greens. Finally December 26th is St. Stephens Day. For most families, this means leftovers. While you may not be in Italy for the holidays this year, you can certainly cook like a Neapolitan with this recipe guide.