Tag Archives: christmas

Holidays’ tradition: Italian Epifania

You should know the Italian holidays’ tradition if you want to travel to Italy at the very beginning of January. After celebrating Christmas, Saint Stephen (on 26th December) patron of Italy, and New Year’s Eve there is one more important event. Especially for Kids. It is something more curious. For us, the Christmas holidays finish on 6th January, with Befana, an old lady.

Maybe it is not only an Italian holiday’s tradition but here it is like a second Santa Claus for kids. Someone, joking, define Befana as the wife of Santa. Anyway, this imaginary person comes from the folklore. It is a bit sad also because this character represents the last day of festivity.

Holidays’ tradition: the Befana

In origin, Befana was part of the holiday’s tradition in Rome and it became well known by all Italians in the 20th century. We believe that the name of this character is just the translation (mispronunciation) of the Greek word Epifania, that it means appearance.

The Roman holiday’s tradition was concerning a gift exchange made at the beginning of January. It was a festivity in honor of Ianus and Strenia. We call ‘strenna’ a Christmas gift. Anyway, the kids expect some presents.

How Befana looks like in holidays’ tradition?

The holidays’ tradition sees the Befana as an old woman shriveled by the ailments of age and cold, with few teeth. Her face wrinkled and sometimes, but not always, she has a very prominent nose to emphasize her old age and the little beauty due to her age. The old aspect derives from a symbolic representation of the old year. Once it is ended, it can be burned. To burn puppets is a tradition also in the North of Europe.

To shelter adequately, the Befana wears long, lysed and jotted patches. She often wears an apron. She also uses heavy anti-cold socks and comfortable shoes. But she doesn’t use boots much more suited to the witches of fairy tales. On the shoulders, sometimes hunched, she always has a heavy and colored wool shawl and not a fluttering cape. A true Befana uses only a handkerchief of heavy cloth (the pezzóla) or a woolly knit scarecrow knotted under the chin. She has a broom, often used to lean or fly briefly. Sometimes she can also use a stick instead of a broomstick. In the imaginary, the Befana rides the broom.

What does the Befana do?

The character has her own holidays’ tradition style. She has no sack of gifts, but she brings her gifts or her charcoal in jute sacks unmade and siphon. This takes the form of huge socks, or in a wicker basket. It depends on the territoriality and the tradition of the place where it is celebrated.

As the legend of the holidays’ tradition says, the Befana delivers sweets to good children or coal and onion to naughty children. Coal – or even ash – from the ancient ritual symbol of bonfires was initially inserted into socks or shoes along with sweets. This in remembrance of the seasonal renewal, but also of burned puppets. In the Catholic moral view of the following centuries, Befana was putting only the coal and the onions into socks and shoes as punishment. Only children who had behaved badly during the previous year got these gifts.

Will you receive sweets or coal?

Italian culture

Before to visit Italy it is good to know something about the holiday‘s tradition of the country. Especially if you have the chance to live them going around in the right period. I have prepared more posts about culture, curiosities, and information about Italy. You can visit the section of my blog. So you will find something useful and also some ideas to plan your Italian tour. I add often new articles. All of them from my direct experience.

To get all the updates I invite you to subscribe to my newsletter. Weekly I will send you news and extra contents. Then you can also to follow me on my social pages and be informed about my trips. And if you enjoyed this post, share it!

Now I let you organize the trip to Italy. I am sure you will like to spend your holidays in my country. You can use free air miles to reserve your ticket and find a house sitter who will take care of your house while you are away.

Feel free to ask for some information or tips for your trip. And share your impressions after the trip. Comments below and contact form are at your disposal. I will be happy to read your notes and answer.

Christmas lunch tradition

Here it is almost time for Christmas lunch and in my house, we are getting ready. I renew my wishes to all of you. To whom is celebrating this day: how is it going? I hope very well, I hope you are having a really smiling Christmas, full of joy. Well, today I am at home, so I have no travels to share or advice to give. I want just to give you a recipe. Well, I am not a good cook and this is not a food blog, but it is an opportunity for me to share a bit of tradition.

What we eat for Christmas lunch

In Piedmont, my region, we have a special tradition, different from the rest of Italy. We eat “Agnolotti”. I enclose the recipe for one of the versions. In each area of Piedmont, there are differences, but this one is surely appreciated by most of the people. Before to let you how we prepare them, I prefer to give some curiosities.

Agnolotti is the traditional recipe for Christmas lunch, but this food was invented for the Carnival. Women were preparing this dish while men were playing to cuciòn, a game similar to bowling.

To taste real agnolotti it is better, according to the taste of some gourmets, don’t use any dress, but we have the habit to put some sauce or some broth. Old people eat them drinking Barbera wine. Some cooks roast them and some others eat Agnolotti as an appetizer. In my family, we have it as the first course.

The recipe

I go directly to post the recipe for Christmas lunch, just letting you know that the picture is coming from my house. They are completely made by us. As the tradition asks. The recipe was written and translated by Armando Gambera

Agnolotti al sugo d’arrosto

Ingredients

for the filling:

  • 500 g veal meat
  • 500 g pork meat
  • 5 garlic yolks
  • rosemary
  • 3 eggs
  • a ladle of stock
  • 500 g Savoy cabbage
  • one glass olive oil
  • 100 g grated parmesan

for the dough:

  • one kilo 00 wheat flour
  • 12 eggs

Procedure

First they made the filling, called the empiora.

First of all roast both the veal and pork meat: after having fried it lightly on high fire for ten-fifteen minutes with three garlic yolks, a bit of rosemary, salt, and pepper, let it cook on a slow fire for an hour, adding some stock from time to time if necessary.

Let the meat cool down, take the garlic and rosemary away and mince the rest carefully.

In the meantime boil the cabbage and cook it in a pan for some minutes with oil and garlic; then mince it.

Now add the meat and put the mix in a bowl, add the parmesan, three whole eggs, and mix. The filling is now ready.

The dough

Put the flour on pasteboard and give it the shape of a volcano.

In the hole put three whole eggs and nine yolks: knead carefully until the dough is ready, adding soma more flour if necessary.

Cut the dough in thick slices, then with a rolling pin or a machine make each slice into a very thin leaf.

Take little portions of the filling and put them on the dough, one cm. away from one another.

Then fold the dough over the filling and close it by pressing.

Now separate the agnolotti from one another.

They must e square, about one cm. long, well filled; the more the filling, the better; but the agnolotti must not be to big.

Let the agnolotti rest in a cool place for a couple of hours before cooking them in salted boiling water for some minutes; take them away and dress them with the sauce made by the meat you have roasted to make the filling; or with some melted butter and sage.

Enjoy the Christmas lunch Agnolotti!

 

 

Calendar 2019: a gift for you

My dear followers and readers,

this is the Calendar 2019 for you. I planned to post some new articles these days and I am working to do it. Meanwhile, since Christmas is coming, I want to give you my small gift to thank you all! It is almost the first birthday of this blog and if I am here after all these months it is because of you. You follow me, like and comment on my posts, so I have a reason to continue to write.

Now you are thinking “ok, it’s time to leave him, otherwise, he will never stop”… hahaha, I know that you are doing it, so with my gift, I am trying to corrupt you with my Calendar 2019. I am joking, don’t worry. I like to read your feedback and this wants to be really only a “thank you” for your support.

Calendar 2019: what

It is easy, you just need to click on “MY ANASA Calendar 2019” and download it. It is a pdf file and you can save it on your computer or print it out. The Calendar 2019 is made in an international model so you can find all the days of next year without holidays written. That’s why I dedicated it to all of you, also to whom is not going to celebrate Christmas on 25th December and to whom don’t celebrate it.

MY ANASA Calendar 2019

You find also one of my pictures. I have chosen it because for me on the chair each of us can seat. It is the position from where to see what will happen next year. We don’t have only to seat there but also to act. In about one week it will start a new year and this Calendar 2019 is my first wish to you all for 12 months rich of satisfaction. We will have one more week to exchange wishes so I will be back to you all for it.

I did it on Freepik.

Christmas gift idea: how to find the best one now

You have already read some posts about my gifts for Christmas holidays. Now I want to share the best Christmas gift idea. Or better I am going to explain what I had the chance to learn: how to find easily and quickly the best present. Some tips are useful, especially when you don’t know what to buy and to give to a friend, a relative or also to the special person of your life. The worst thing that can happen it is to bring the wrong gift to a person. That is why I started to collect some hints. Now I propose them to you.

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, so why to transform it in the most horrible? We all need some shopping advices. The first step I generally do is try to catch what people want. The direct question is just a fail. Infact the answer of relatives and friends is always the same one: “I don’t need anything”. This means the opposite, we all know it, but what do they want? The question mark will remain untill you will give them your present. It is a big risk…

With kids it can be a bit easier, because they are used to write to Santa Claus, but what to do with the others? You need a real strategy to find the Christmas gift idea. Good, here I have the solution for you. Follow all the steps carefully and you will be smiling together with your friends and relatives on Xmas day. It is not difficult, you only have to pay attention and to act.

1. List the interests of the person

The first rule to find the best Christmas gift idea is to make a sort of list about what the present receiver likes. Write down as many elements as you need, because this is only the beginning. Maybe you will need to select the main one, according to what you can purchase or what the person wants. Once you have listed all the topics you need to brainstorm to write at least one item for each passion of your friend or relative. Combine them to search the ideal gift. It has to be something persona and thoughtful. This is the goal of the present.

2. Look to the past

You need facts. A recent success, a sad story, a dream from childhood. Each detail is very important. To find a useful Christmas gift idea focus on something that can give a pleasant experience. For example for a recent graduation you can buy a weekend package for the celebration or something that will be useful for the future job. In case of a dream you can think about something that can help your relative or friend to realize it. For instance there are box with some particular experiences offered: drive a Ferrari, fly with an hot air balloon.

 

3. What does that person need?

You have to answer, without asking to her/him, to this question. This is a necessary step to reach your goal. Maybe you think that the person has everything, but are you sure? I mean that today there are many items that you can buy to make the people daily life more efficient. In this case focus on the main activity and imagine what can help her or him to live easily. A university student is maybe searching for some instruments. A busy worker need free time, so find something that can give the chance to develop an hobby.

4. Become a stalker

Are you in trouble with the wishlist? You can’t find anything that can be adapt to the person. No idea and a big lack of information about her or his interests? There is only one solution. Stalk. Not literally, of course. Check the social pages, try to find out if exists a wishlist on Amazon or some other shop online. Don’t ask, but investigate on habits and some posts online. People sometimes share some products they want, spreading their thoughts and opinions. They are the answer. Find it and you will be on the way to the Christmas gift idea.

 

5. What about charity?

If you realize that this person doesn’t need anything, there is another way. Be sure before to act. I never think that a person can really have everything, but it can be hard to find something new for her or him. The alternative is charity. How? Well, think about the experience and the interested of the gift receiver. For example the person did some volunteering in an NGO or she/he has a passion for kids or animals. Donate to that NGO or to one association that take care of childrens or animals. Write the name of the person as donator.

6. Organize an experience

Imagine that the person likes a lot a movie or a book and she or he already had the chance to see the film and to read the text. Maybe there is a representation of it at the theatre. Buy the ticket and use it as Christmas gift. This is an example, but it can inspire you, because sometimes attend to a show or live directly a particular experience is the best present. The sign of it will remain in the person’s mind for a very long time. Of course if the experience is good and if it matches the interests.

7. Make the gift to be an event

Once you found the proper Christmas gift idea and did your purchase it is time for the next steps. It is common to say that the most important thing is the thought and not the present, but is this true? Well, in part yes! Prepare the package with creativity. Don’t use a traditional wrapping paper, but work to realize an event, to give a unique experience to that person. You need to be sure that she or he can enjoy your gift. What can you do? I can’t answer to this, but surely I can give you some examples. Hide the package and send a message, maby leaving a card somewhere with some hints to find it. Try to make the package a bit difficult to be opened. It has to be funny and pleasant to open the gift.

8. You have to be part of the gift

Include a bit of yourself in the present. Your Christmas gift idea has to show your touch. You need to make it personal because the item is from you to her or him. That means that the gift contain something concerning to your relation. It can be a sign of something that you know about the person, or maybe it reminds to a specific past experience. The personalized gift is anyway always something pleasant.

9. Laugh is important

The last tip to share with you concern smiles. If you want to make special your Christmas gift idea, make the person laugh. For example the present receiver loves tomatoes? Give her or him 1 kilo of tomatoes. Of course this is not the real gift, but it is funny and it create a funny situation. It surprises, it causes a reaction and in the end it makes laugh. Then you will be ready to bring the real present.

 

So now you have all the tips to quickly find the best Christmas gift idea. Also you know how to present it. If you will follow this strategy you will have success.

What about gift cards for Christmas?

I am too generous… Thinking to the Christmas gifts for friends I came out with a new idea. What about gift cards for Christmas? It is not an original idea, but of course it can be useful. I don’t have to choose the item but give a certain amount to purchase or to get a discount on a product chosen by my friend. My creativity is going to finish or at least it looke like to be at the end for the next celebrations. That is why I had the idea to focus my mind on gift cards. What do you think? Does it work? What will you give to your relatives and friends? Of course if you celebrate Xmas.

First of all I pay attention to Amazon that offers a huge variety of items. It is easy to find what they need and they can redeem the card. There are different options regarding the amount of money. It looks like to be the perfect gift without the risk to make a mistake. Cothes, technology, games, books and also a lot of items for travellers. Everything is part of the online shop.

Travelling

Some of the gifts I want to buy are destinated to travellers. So I was thinking to use dedicated gift cards. I got some inspiration on Booking.com in order to find the perfect destination and some ideas about the hotels. They can easily choose the best structure and also the period when to go on holiday. Offers and good prices make me more rich, because while I purchase the gift I can save some money.



Booking.com

Then I saw also some other gift cards for Christmas proposed by hotels and airline companies. It is possible to decide the amount and also to personalize the card, that will be valid for one year. More or less all the structures accept these gifts for a long period and the guests can also add some services and pay only the extras. Christmas is approaching and I still have a lot of gifts to buy, so with these type of solution I don’t have to go out. I can do it at home with my computer, using my credit card.