How is Christmas Eve celebrated in Italy?

Are you wondering what Christmas Eve looks like in Italy? Or whether it’s even celebrated there? We’ll go over all things Christmas in Italy today.


Is Christmas Eve celebrated in Italy?


Yes, Italians do celebrate Christmas, though it’s quite a bit different than what we’re used to. The dinner on Christmas Eve in Italy is much fancier than what we’d usually have. There’s also more seafood and fish in general, often as starters. The first course involves pasta with fish or seafood. The second course usually involves Baccala or cod in many other forms. Here’s the staple Italian Christmas menu.


What drinks do Italians have on Christmas Eve?


Christmas Eve in Italy can start with an aperitivo, a glass of light alcohol such as Prosecco or Aperol Spritz. You can also get wine or water with your dinner. The drinks at Christmas Eve in Italy are not much different from those at an ordinary Italian dinner.


What do you eat for a Christmas Eve starter in Italy?


Examples of Italian starters served on Christmas Eve:

  • Crostini with smoked salmon
  • Shrimp cocktail
  • Salmon Involtini
  • Mussels
  • Octopus salad
  • Scallops au gratin
  • Fried vegetables or cheese


What do you eat for a Christmas Eve main course in Italy?


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We’ll divide the menu into two courses, as is customary for Italy:

  • Spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with mussels)
  • Risotto marinara (risotto with seafood and/or fish)
  • Fish Ravioli
  • Baccala in tomato sauce (cod)
  • Swordfish parmigiana
  • Baked Baccala (cod)

These are, of course, just examples of typical main dishes in Italy for Christmas Eve.


What do you eat for dessert on Christmas Eve in Italy?


panettone pandoro

Dessert staples for Christmas Eve include Torrone, meaning white nougat, Pandoro and Panettone. The latter two are both Italian sweet breads traditionally prepared for Christmas and New Year’s Day. In a nutshell, Panettone has raisins and dried fruit added to it while Pandoro is simpler in shape and a bit more buttery. 

A popular sweet addition in Italy at the end of dinner is also mandarins and walnuts. You can get a small glass of digestivo at the end of the Christmas Eve, though this is not a popular tradition.

When you come as guests, it’s a good idea to bring a bottle of liquor with you as a gift for the host, or, if you don’t support such gifts, you can bring flowers or something sweet.


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