Do you believe in Santa Claus? Whether there’s a Santa Claus or not, that’s not why I love Christmas. Traditions, flavours and events are so important at Christmas time, aren’t they? What is the best place where you can discover the real meaning of Christmas? In Apulia, obviously. I’ll lead you on the discovery of a region where the magic of Christmas is true.
The Christmas tradition in Apulia has its own undisputed protagonist, which is of a secon-dary importance in the rest of Italy: the nativity scene. The idea dates back to the 13th cen-tury when Saint Francis of Assisi came up with the thought of recreating the nativity to feel involved in the religious festival. Since then, it has had a key role in Christmas traditions; in the past, people were used to using a whole room for the nativity scene. There are many towns, which are famous for that, such as Alberobello, Canosa and Bari. Moreover, the nativity scene of Oria (in province of Brindisi) livens up the streets of this wonderful medieval town and it dates back to the period of Saint Francis of Assisi. There’s no shortage of ecological initiatives like the Christmas tree in Calimera, in the province of Lecce. It’s made of 3,500 recycled plastic bottles. Last but not least, the biggest living nativity scene in Apulia, takes place in Tricase. It’s so detailed and you’ve the sense living during that time.
Do you think Christmas in Apulia refers only to this? If so, you’re wrong. Christmas mar-kets are so significant in almost all Apulian towns. One of the most renowned Christmas market takes place from 18th to 23rd December in Ostuni where you can taste local products and sweets and you can buy Christmas decorations and handcrafts like little jewels and ceramics; you can also watch the street performances and local dances. Apulia is rich in customs and folk tales, especially at Christmas time. For example, on Christmas Eve, if young girls look in the mirror wearing their hair down, they might see their future husband’s image.
The last point is about food. You’re probably wondering what Apulia has to offer at this time of year. Apulia always offers something at any time, especially if we talk about food! You should absolutely taste frittelle (fried puffs stuffed with tomato and mozzarella, tuna and onion or ricotta cheese), lamb roast dotted with rosemary and garlic and cartellate (fried rose-shaped puff pastry plunged into vin cotto). There is a great deal of food worth tasting. Christmas comes but once a year, so don’t waste your time. Apulia is waiting for you!