christmas dinner table

What Do Italians Eat at Christmas?

From agnolotti to zelten, through capitone and tortellini: the Italian Christmas food list is long. Here are some examples.


From agnolotti to zelten, through capitone and tortellini: the Italian christmas food list is long. Here are some examples.

What do the Italians eat for christmas dinner? The dishes and traditions are very different throughout  the Peninsula. In the Center and in the South the most important moment is la Vigilia dinner, while in the North the big celebration takes place on the 25th lunch. And there are also precise rules regarding what to eat: traditional Christmas eve dinner menu is usually based on fish, while at Christmas you can give free rein to the imagination
and includes meat. Common traits to all the regions are dried fruit and typical Italian Christmas desserts like torrone, pandoro and panettone.

The table of the North

One of the Aosta Valley specialties that is eaten for the Christmas dinner party is carbonade, beef cooked in red wine; and then the honey croutons, to be seasoned with dried and flavored goat or sheep's salami.

In Piedmont it is not Christmas without the agnolotti and mixed boiled meat, seasoned with sauces like the bagnet ross and verd. Vegetable or meat Ravioli; Cappon magro, a Genoese salad of seafood, polenta with cod, and boiled meat with sauces.

In Friuli Christmas menu includes dishes like brovada and muset, a turnip and cotechino soup, with polenta, and then tripe with sauce and cheese and capon. In Trentino-Alto Adige the kings of the table are dumplings, roe deer or baked goat and typical desserts, the strudel or zelten, made with dried and candied fruit.

cotechino, polenta and lentils

The Centre of Italy

Tortellini and passatelli, strictly in broth, tagliatelle and lasagna, but also pumpkin tortelli and herbs, ham and culatello dominate the tables of Emilia Romagna, home of good food especially meat. Although there are some exceptions: in Modena, at Christmas they eat preserved fish like cod. There you can taste spaghetti with tuna, mackerel, anchovies and tomato, but also stewed or fried cod. It's the feast of the seven fishes menu.

And the cod is also a protagonist on the tables of La Vigilia in Lazio, where it is served together with fried mixed vegetable and the capon. In Rome, at the Vigilia, you can not miss the fish soup or pasta and broccoli in arzilla broth. You can also find spaghetti with anchovies, fried eel and puntarelle salad. And finally: the nougat and pampepato, with lots of dried fruit. On the 25th lunch they eat baked lamb with potatoes and cappelletti in broth, but also boiled meat or turkey.

The Tuscans taste cooutons with livers, roasted duck and stuffed capon. They also cook the bardiccio, a spicy pork sausage with fennel. 

raosted duck

Southern traditions

Capon broth, spaghetti with clams, friselle, stuffed capon with salad and then struffoli and dried fruit: it is Christmas dinner in Campania. Some also eat the capitone, the female eel. The reason is soon explained: being very similar to a snake, the capitone would symbolize the victory of men over Evil.

Fish, meat and vegetables are not lacking even in Basilicata, Calabria and Puglia. In the first, we find cabbage and thistles in turkey broth, and then boiled or fried cod with dried red peppers. Calabria boasts cold cuts, from pancetta to capicollo, from soppressata to sausage, and then spaghetti with breadcrumbs and anchovies.

In many Southern regions we find the pettole, delicious sweet or savoru fritters. You can also eat the roasted eel and the fried cod and then the baked lamb with lampascioni, which are slightly bitter onions. Finally, the desserts: turdilli and pitta 'mpigliata.

In Sardinia you can taste the culurgiones de casu, which are ravioli stuffed with tomato sauce, and then the inevitable malloreddus, semolina gnocchetti with sausage sauce. And then salad with oranges, herring and onion, thistled in batter, hen in broth. In Sicily you can taste pasta with sardines and beccafico, the sfincione, a typical pizza based on onion, which goes well with thistles in batter and hen in broth. And finally, an incredible array of desserts, from buccellati to cassate and cannoli.

These are some of the dishes we have collected and which characterize the traditional Italian christmas dinner menu.fried cod and red peppers