Over the past few weeks I have been getting used to the idea that Christmas will not be “normal” this year. I typically spend the days and weeks leading up to Christmas celebrating with each one of my friends and then being surrounded by my extended family in Stockton and Watsonville. This is our first year celebrating Christmas as a newly married couple. Instead of feeling sad that we are so far away from family during this time, we are working on starting some of our own traditions.
The base here sets up so many fun events for families. Last Friday was the Tree Lighting Ceremony. There was hot chocolate, caroling, ice skating, and even Santa made an appearance! I’m always shocked at what is pulled off for the people living here. We are very lucky. I was most surprised by their ice skating rink. They brought in a rink for the weekend and it was open for anyone to use. They had ice skates set up rent and a whole group of employees managing the area. It was a fun way to kick off Christmas celebrations in Italy.
My husband and I have slowly started decorating our house. We agreed that each year we would purchase a new Christmas ornament to represent the year and something to decorate our home with. This agreement was reached after we walked into a Christmas themed store and I started to get a little crazy.
I was shocked by a few cultural differences! First, I noticed that stockings don’t exist here! When I asked a woman for the stockings or stocking hangers she directed me to a clothing aisle. Then, (relating back to lack of stockings) I noticed that Santa Claus as a figure it not as common. I think this has to do with the catholic background of Italy. It is more common to see snowmen and snow covered critters than it is to see Santa Claus. There were walls full of Nativity Sets that you could mix and match to design something to your liking but the chances of finding a Santa Claus we much more rare. Finally, I have noticed that near all of the Nativity Sets there are these smaller building models. Some have characters in them. There are bread makers, market vendors, and characters selling wine. I am not sure what they have to do with Christmas or why they are available during this time. Does anyone have an answer for me?