Christmas Season in Rome

Rome is a top Italian city to visit during the Christmas holiday season and the place where the celebration of Christmas originated. The first Christmas mass was said at the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore and the earliest known permanent nativity was created for the Rome Jubilee in 1300.
The Rome Christmas sights during the Christmas holiday season run from early December through Epiphany on January 6.

Piazza Navona Christmas Market

Piazza Navona in December, Rome’s famous Baroque square, is transformed into a huge Christmas market. You’ll find stands selling all kinds of Christmas sweets, toys, nativity figures, decorations, and gifts. There’s a merry-go-round and Babbo Natale, Father Christmas, makes an appearance to delight the kids. A large nativity scene is erected in the square later in December, too.

Each year a huge Christmas tree is erected in Saint Peter’s Square. A life-size nativity is also set up but usually not unveiled until Christmas Eve. Thousands of visitors flock to Saint Peter’s Square when the Pope says midnight mass on Christmas Eve inside Saint Peter’s Basilica (in the square it’s shown on big screen TVs) and delivers his Christmas message at noon on Christmas Day from the window of his apartment above the square. December 13 there’s a colorful parade to Saint Peter’s Square for Santa Lucia Day.
Christmas trees are really not an Italian tradition but are starting to become more popular. In addition to the tree in Saint Peter’s Square, two of the largest Christmas trees in Rome are usually erected in Piazza Venezia and next to the Colosseum. There’s also a tree in the area in front of the Museums on the Capitoline Hill. Some shops, hotels, and restaurants display small trees.

Rome’s main streets are decorated with lights and often have entertainment by roving musicians and vendors selling roasted chestnuts. A good place to go is the shopping streets near Piazza di Spagna. An outdoor ice skating rink, open daily from 10:00 to midnightis set up near Castel Sant’Angelo where there’s also a small Christmas market.

Rome has a large Jewish population and Hanukkah is another important holiday celebrated in December. A large Menorrah is erected in Piazza Barberini and one candle is lit each night during the Hanukkah season.

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