Naples is a beautiful city 365 days a year, but if there is a period in which it becomes more colorful and, if possible, magic, it is Christmas. Neapolitans are very attached to their traditions and, above all at Christmas, they can’t do without some recipes, objects and rituals. Let’s see what:
NATIVITY SCENE – The nativity scene, in neapolitan language “presepio”, is a representation of the scene of Christ’s birth. Neapolitans love building their own “presepio” every year, buying the pieces in via San Gregorio Armeno, the “street of presepi”. Here it’s possible to find figurines of characters not only from the scene of the nativity of Jesus, but also of real celebrities, like politicians, football players, singers and actors. The neapolitan nativity scene is not only a religious object, but a proper symbol of the identity of Christmas in Naples.
BACCALA’ AND CAPITONE – One of the most common recipes that neapolitans eat at Christmas is fried fish, particularly “baccalà” and “capitone”. To be precise, “baccalà” is a part of the codfish and “capitone” is a type of eel. Neapolitans usually buy them in the night between 23rd and 24th of december, at the fish market that remains open all night long for this tradition.
TOMBOLA – Neapolitan families meet every year at Christmas around a table for two reasons: to eat and to play “tombola”. Neapolitan “tombola” is an ancient game, very similar to bingo, but funnier. What makes “tombola” so funny? Each number has a meaning and the person who draw numbers tells a funny story mixing the meanings. Fun and laughs guaranteed!
DESSERTS – Neapolitan pastry-making consist of a huge variety of desserts. Which desserts eat Neapolitans at Christmas? Simple, “struffoli”! “Struffoli” are small balls of fried dough, covered with honey and served with candied fruits and candies. An other typical Christams dessert is “roccocò”, a very tough donut with almonds inside.
FAMILY – What makes Christmas very special in Naples is family. Neapolitans gather whole families around a table in this period of the year, hosting until 50 people in a single house! Christmas in Naples is a holiday mostly for this reason, because can create, even for a day, an atmosphere of joy and aggregation in every house.