In my three years in Palermo, I have never spent Christmas here. The lure of my grandmother’s Christmas feast, log fires, and pints of beer in the pub is too much for me. I always fly home.
So truthfully, I can’t really say anything about Christmas proper here in Palermo.
However, I can tell you about the build up.
It starts on the evening on 7th December. Everyone is at home, playing cards and eating sfincione.
And so the season begins.
The 8th December is a national holiday in Italy- the Festa dell’Immacolata Concezione. Offices are closed (although shops are open for the all important purchasing of presents) and local spend time with family and friends.
There’s a procession (when isn’t there a procession in Palermo!), with a statue of the Madonna leaving San Francesco church and making her way to San Domenico. Here, firemen place flowers on top of the statue. I cried the first time I saw it. Although I must admit that it was probably more atmospheric when a ladder was used, rather than a fire engine!
From now until Christmas Eve, Palermitani are in holiday mode. Cards are played in continuation. Eating is mandatory. Aperitivos are rife.
One day maybe I will experience Christmas itself. But not this year. Not yet.
I’ve got potatoes to scrub back home and a grandmother who needs her annual panettone. Maybe this year I will get her one with a nativity scene made of white chocolate
Buona Festa a tutti!