Christmas is that long-awaited event by children that yearly transforms the biggest cities of the world. Rome, of course, is not far behind. Every single corner of the city is promptly decorated while waiting for Christmas: garlands, decorations, lights and Christmas trees warmly decorate the Eternal City, strongly enhancing the wonders that Rome offers to its citizens and tourists.
Let’s see together what are the main peculiarities of Rome and the Vatican, during Christmas time.
December 8: the Immaculate Conception
Among the most famous Christmas celebrations in Rome, two of them are the most characteristic and deserve an honorable mention: the Papal attendance in Piazza di Spagna and the ignition of the magnificent Christmas tree in Piazza Venezia.
Traditionally, on 8 December the Pope yearly goes to Piazza di Spagna, in the middle of the old town of Rome, to give to the Holy Virgin Mary, conceived without sin, a crown of flowers, in order to honor her in the day of her Feast, the Immaculate Conception. For a whole day, the attention of the faithful moves from St. Peter’s Basilica and focuses on Piazza di Spagna. Romans and tourists fill up the Spanish Steps to see this very particular religious occasion.
Another very important event on 8 December is the ignition of the impressive Christmas tree in Piazza Venezia, just in front of the Altar of the Fatherland (Altare della Patria). This circumstance recalls in one of the most famous squares of the city Romans and tourists that come to this square to admire its splendor and magnificence.
Together with the Christmas tree, even the decoration lights of the city are turned on, especially the lights of Via del Corso, from Piazza Venezia to Piazza del Popolo. Every year, a different company or business is in charge of the Christmas decorations of this very important roman street.
Romans and tourists that want to immerse themselves in this fascinating roman Christmas atmosphere, are used to walking along this very long and important street of the Eternal City, enjoying the day and buying Christmas gifts and souvenirs.
Christmas Markets in Rome
Like it happens in many different cities of the world, even Roma has its own version of the typical Christmas markets. In the majestic Piazza Navona, where the architecture of Borromini strongly resounds and the Fountain of the Four Rivers by Bernini firmly stands up, every December the Christmas markets take place, a special event that yearly recalls families and tourists. Climax of this event is on 6th of January, the day of the Epiphany when the Three Wise Men, according to the Holy Bible, arrive at the Bethlehem hut to bring their gifts to the Infant Jesus. On 6 January, many roman families go to the gorgeous Piazza Navona to wait the arrival of the “Befana”, a folkloric figure that has the appearance of a very old lady who, according to the legend, brings gifts and sweets to the good kids and (sweet) coal to those who did not behave.
Christmas at the Vatican
Moving the attention to the other side of the Tiber river, we can find Saint Peter’s Square, the heart of Vatican City. Every year, in the most famous square of the world, right next to the central obelisk, an impressive Christmas tree is placed. Next to it, a different Catholic community every year places an artisanal Nativity Scene of real dimensions, which calls the attention of the faithful from all over the world.
If you want to breathe a hint of the magical Christmas spirit of St. Peter’s Square and Rome in your own house, you may see our religious articles dedicated to Christmas.
In addition to a wide collection of Christmas tree decorations, you can find finely handmade Nativity sets, impressive works of the best Italian craftsmen and request the complimentary Blessing from Pope Francis.
Take a look at them.