Merry Christmas Ischia!
This week's blog comes unusually on a Thursday rather than a Sunday but as it's such a special day in the calendar we wanted to use it to say a big Merry Christmas to everybody who reads the weekly scribblings or visits the website looking for information about our beautiful island.
There's no other subject that can be discussed than what happens in Ischia at Christmas (I always say "in Ischia" rather than "on Ischia", I know that strictly speaking it should be "on" but it just doesn't feel right. Sorry but I just had to get that off my chest!) and obviously with everything so fresh in the mind this is the best time to talk about it. Having had the pleasure of spending today and last night with my adopted Italian family I can give you a brief run through of how it all unfolds here.
The first thing to say is that there's slightly more importance attached to Christmas Eve in Italy compared to the U.K. (and I suspect the US & Canada too). The 24th December is known as "La Vigilia" here and shares many of the basic principles of Christmas Day in so much as families gather for the occasion and eat, a lot! On Christmas Eve it's traditional to eat fish and this can be any kind of fish, in fact last night it seemed to be every kind of fish. There were king prawns (gamberoni), anchovies (alici), salmon (salmone) and a huge baked fish that formed the centre-piece that nobody knew the name of so we settled on "fish". This was preceded by a pasta dish with octopus, (polipo) squid (calamari) and all kinds of delicious antipasti made from vegetables and rice.
After the meal on Christmas Eve people play board games such as Tombola or Monopoly and if children are present there's the wonderful tradition at midnight of placing a model of the baby Jesus into his manger in the nativity scene. This happens not only at home but also in town and village centres such as Forio where the ceremony is accompanied by cakes and Prosecco. It's very hard not to love Italy sometimes!
So after the feast on Christmas Eve the idea is to have a very light breakfast and to do some exercise before embarking on an even bigger culinary adventure on Christmas Day. Now there's no strict tradition to adhere to in terms of what to eat and each region has slightly different "rules" about this. In Ischia though you're free to choose what to cook without fear of upsetting any ancient customs and today we were treated to a bit of just about everything. This included canneloni, roast veal, roast chicken, roast potatoes, green beans, brioche, mozzarella, eggs, salami, aubergines, timballo (a type of rice dish with vegetables) and all sorts of other things that I can't remember. What I can remember is that all of this was followed by various types of biscuits, fruit, cheesecake and a gateaux. This all happened about 7 hours ago and you'll understand when I tell you that the thought of eating any more food is still nowhere near the agenda!
With all that in mind I'll keep things nice and brief so that I can go and recover from all that overeating and flop down to watch a Christmas movie or two. Just a quick word about a little feature that we've added to the site. On the homepage you'll now see a section called "Ischia Today" which we'll use to tell you about the weather, travel news and events on a daily basis, something we hope that you'll find useful if you're planning a trip over and want to keep in touch with what's going on.
Anyway, once again a big "Buon Natale" from the Ischia Review team. Have a great Christmas wherever you are :-)
Dion and Silvana
Thursday 25th December 2014 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Today’s Saint’s day/Name day: Natale, Christel
Today in history: USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev goes on live television to formally announce his resignation from the post (1991)
Born on this day: English scientist Sir Isaac Newton (1642)
Sun-rise (alba) 07:25hrs – Sun-set (tramonto): 16:41hrs
Hi, I'm Dion Protani, the creator of Ischia Review. I'm here in Ischia to tell everybody about this wonderful island and the weekly blog is designed to give you an insight into the culture and everyday life in Ischia.