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Zampognari in traditional dress

How to Celebrate a Traditional Christmas in Italy 17 Days Early

The Christmas Season in Italy kicks off with La Festa dell’Immacolata – the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th. It is traditional that the Pope visits Rome, where the entire city centers around Piazza Mignanelli, near the Spanish Steps, where stands the statue of the Virgin Mary, resting atop a nearly 40 foot column of cipollino marble.

At 7:30 am, firemen climb a ladder to place a wreath on the extended arm of the statue of the Blessed Mother, and thus the day’s festivities- and the Italian Christmas season – begin. White roses and flowers are placed at the base of the column and processions lead to the piazza.

The Papal tradition began in 1856, when Pope Pius IX erected the column dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, commemorating the Proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

La Festa dell’Immacolata concludes with an evening concert at the Basilica of Santa Maria in Ara Coeli on the Capitoline Hill. Following a festive day of ceremonies, Rome is ready for the holiday season, glowing with Christmas decorations and ready for a month full of events to cascade through the Eternal City.