December the 8th and the Christmas Tree

Read the word!

This month of December my blog will be dedicated to the Italian traditions of the Christmas Season.

There is a first time for everything. This year, for the first time and against the Italian tradition I have trimmed (addobbato) my Christmas tree (albero di Natale) prior to December the 8th. To be precise my tree was trimmed and lit on November the 30th, shame on me!

You may ask “what about December the 8th?”

December the 8th in the Catholic world, is the festivity of the Immaculate Conception. Already celebrated in the XI century, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was proclaimed by Pope Pio IX on December 8, 1845.

Every city in Italy, big and small, celebrate this festivity in their own unique way. In Rome, in Piazza di Spagna, the Pope adorns the statue of Mary with a garland of flower. Because the statue sits on top of a column, the firemen (pompieri) on ladder, place the garland on the statue.

In the Year of the Catholic Church liturgy, this holiday marks the last of the Marian Feasts (Feste Mariane) dedicated to the Virgin Mary (Madonna).

This national holiday is also enjoyed as a long weekend. It is common for the Italians to take il ponte (the bridge), this means that if a holiday falls on a Thursday or a Tuesday, they bridge the holidays taking off from work and school the extra day in between. Aren’t we smart!

Traditionally, this holiday also marks the beginning of the Christmas Holiday Season (Feste Natalizie) and therefore the trimming of the Christmas tree.

After going through several changes over the years (all red, all silver, silver and red and so on) my Christmas tree has finally found its identity. For start it is a real tree, it has a modern flair, it has a collection of the ornaments that my boys present to me every year, it has an Italian touch and, it is lit with clear lights.

Babbo Natale speeding on his Vespa

To satisfy my longing for something different, few years ago I also bought a small silver tinsel tree, I love it…it’s an eye sore to my boys! Well, they were lucky I didn’t bring home the other tree I came around, a green bottle brush tree. I am not talking about the botanical specie but true brushes to clean bottles. Let me be clear, I do like it. May be I will surprise them next year!

Tinsel Tree

One thing for sure, Christmas tree in Italy don’t have a skirt!

Can you read what the letters spell on my Christmas tree?

Do you have a real or artificial tree? How do you decorate your tree? Clear lights or multicolor? Do you have a theme?

I would love to know!

8 thoughts on “December the 8th and the Christmas Tree

  1. Vicky Nicholson

    I have a santa tree with only santa ornaments. My mom used to have a pink tree and a silver tree, now they are back in style. She used to have christmas mice around them and on on our plates at Christmas dinner we all had a Fanny Farmer chocolate santa on our plates. I am still doing the santa’s on our plates as a rememory of her.The other memories are of family, who just keep coming in the door with also surprise friends who always came after dinner, Food was always out and drinks were plentiful. It was a great time that I will never forget.


  2. MariaGiovanna, I love your new blog and your “Sharing my Italy” fb site. Finally I can learn something about my Italian heritage.

    As for trees, remember those awful Christmas meets we use to attend? Well that changed our Christmas routine. Ian and Peter use to cut down a tree which we would then decorate with an assortment of ornaments collected over the years. Now I put up this hideous fake tree that Ian and I found years ago. It is so awful that we have come to love it.

    However, I am intrigued by this bottle brush tree you found! I must see this as it sounds so perfect for our house.

    Looking forward to future entries.



    1. Carla, I am so glad you like this blog and I hope you will find it useful too.
      Yes, I do remember the Christmas meets, how could anyone forget!
      Anyway, knowing you and your family I am sure your tree must be perfect.
      The bottle brush tree is designed by Kuno Prey and it sold online by Unica Home. It is unique and I really like it, let me know what you think.


  3. Amelie Crosson

    We put up our tree (a real one, usually a spruce) the weekend before Christmas. It’s always too big and my husband has to cut off the top which is why there are smears of sap on the ceiling where the tree always goes. We’ve collected too many ornaments over the years, so we only put our very favourite ones on: they include many school crafts from my now-adult children: a santa made from a toilet paper tube, a star made of string, hardened with glue and sprinkled with sugar, and even a retired retainer with a red bow! One thing we always put on is the dove at the top–for peace, of course–something we need all the time, but especially at Christmas. We take the tree down on January 6, the Epiphany, the official end to the holidays for us.


    1. Thank you Amelie for sharing the history behind your Christmas tree. I have a Christmas box for keepsake ornaments from my now-adult children. We go through the box every year and it brings back so many memories. We also, keep our tree up until January 6, in celebration of the Epiphany, definitely an Italian tradition. I will have a new blog for that!


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