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What Are Traditional Italian Christmas Foods? A guide from Lavinia Davolio

Christmas is fast approaching, and all around the world, it is centred around celebrating with family, friends and loved ones. This is especially true for  Italians, and they celebrate this impressive season uniquely, with a variety of traditional Italian Christmas foods.

There are various types, and they are even eaten at different times during the celebrations days.  Some of the traditional Italian Christmas dinners are seafood or fish because this type of meal has its root in Christianity.  

Italian Christmas View From The Kitchen

Italian food is one of the tastiest and most appreciated in the world, because of its uniqueness and deliciousness. At Christmas, as it happens everywhere, Italian gastronomy shines even more. That is why we dedicate this article to traditional Italian Christmas foods.

What are the Most Popular Traditional Italian Foods for Christmas?

Numerous traditional Italian foods can be attributed to the Italians, but below are just a few that are most famous:

  • Pasta - especially ravioli, tortellini, lasagne;
  • Chocolate - chocolate-covered fruits, chocolate bonbons or truffles;
  • Meat - veal and lamb;
  • Vegetables; 
  • Cake - panettone, pandoro and panforte most famously;
  • Coffee - it's Italy after all!

Italian Christmas, A Feast For The Family

Italians normally celebrate both the 24th of December with a Christmas dinner and the 25th with a Christmas lunch. Both wonderful occasions when families gather together (unlike this year, unfortunately). The gastronomy is very varied, and the traditional Christmas foods vary as well according to each region.

However, most notably, all across Italy the Christmas Eve meal is a meat-free dinner, preferring fish and seafood. On Christmas Day, the menu features antipasti, cheese boards and charcuterie, first course, second and the dessert - and sometimes even more than that. My family and I would be sitting at the table for hours!

foodie guide sardinia

Christmas dishes ideas

Among the traditional entrees are deep-fried vegetables, tartines and fish salad, especially in the South. The first course is generally a succulent plate of spaghetti with clams or lasagna. An excellent choice if you have to feed a large crowd of family members, because you can make whole trays of it. 

Tradition indicates that the main dish should be fish since this day is the birth of Jesus. It is usually fish, trout or salmon, but in cities like Naples, eel is a popular Christmas dish, accompanied by vegetables and carrots.

However, there are also some who dine on meat dishes such as "falsomagro", a loin of meat with a stuffing of eggs and spices, and the tacchino ripieno, which is the traditional turkey, among others.

Among the typical desserts is the babà, a dessert with a soft dough soaked in liquor. The delicious and internationally famous tiramisu, with cocoa and coffee. The pandolce and panforte, typical desserts. Last but not least, Pandoro and of course Panettone, perhaps the most traditional of all the Italian Christmas desserts.


Italian Christmas gifts like sweets and chocolates are a great way during this time of celebration to boost the spirit of the celebration. Even if you're not an Italian and you can still try out the mentioned Italian delicacies to make your Christmas celebration worthwhile.

Which of the Italian Christmas foods have you tried out before or would you love to try during the upcoming Christmas period?