Christmas in Sicily, 5 curiosities underneath the Xmas tree

December 25th is coming, and everybody can breathe a sincere festive atmosphere in the air. Lights, gifts, decorations, the scent of tasty food from the kitchen…this joyful enthusiasm lasts until New Year’s and then until the Epiphany. Each place has its own traditions and curiosities, are you ready to discover 5 tidbits about Christmas in Sicily? Let’s start our journey with Sicilian Secrets.

Christmas in Sicily is unique. We can describe it using culture, people, the most ancient customs that are mixed with the novelties of the modern world. There are many almost unknown curiosities, little secrets that can be revealed during an itinerary organized by Sicilian Secrets. Let’s start our tour…


Have you ever heard about ‘zucco’?  To find out what it is, we need to go back in time and learn more about a tradition that probably has a pagan origin. It is a large bonfire lit in front of the churches on Christmas Eve that can still be seen today in some cities of the island including Acireale, near Catania. Why the fire? Because since the dawn of time, this element has a huge symbolic value associated with the idea of ‘rebirth’ and defeat of darkness. Is there any better way to celebrate this holiday?

Natale in Sicilia
Acireale – Credits:
Do you want to visit Catania and the surrounding area? Join Sicilian Secrets, book the New Year’s Eve Tour of Sicily – Special 8 Days (departure: December 27th) – CLICK HERE


Let’s move now to moving to the province of Ragusa, to one of the most representative places of Christmas in Sicily. We are in Ispica and, to be precise, in the archaeological area of ​​Cava d’Ispica, in the heart of the town. Here the Nativity scene is a fixture, about fifty ancient crafts come alive in the streets and caves, the actors bring back to the present time the everyday life of the times when Jesus was born. You will definitely jump into the Xmas mood.

Christmas in Sicily
Nativity in Cava d’Ispica – Credits:


What do you imagine when you hear the word ‘Aranciata’? No, it is not a drink but a very popular dessert of the Xmas holidays. If you want to taste it, you have to go to Modica. It’s a sort of nougat prepared with Sicilian orange peel cooked in some honey. To set up your Christmas table, you can also add ‘Cedrata’. Obviously, even in this case we are talking about a delicious dessert made using the same process as the Aranciata but with cedar peels. In Sicilian dialect, these two specialties are called petrafennula. Their origin is Arabic and – especially after a long and rich meal! – they have an incredible digestive power.

Christmas in Sicily
Aranciata, Modica – Credits:
Do you want to visit Catania and the surrounding area? Join Sicilian Secrets, book the New Year’s Eve Tour of Sicily – Special 6 Days (departure: December 27th) – CLICK HERE


Can you hear the sound that comes from the instruments of the bagpipers? Christmas in Sicily does not forget (and cannot do without!) about music. We all know the traditional and famous Xmas carols, but the tradition made in Sicily is the one of novenas. They are narrative songs that tell the nativity and are generally sung by the so-called ciaramiddari. Monreale, that is a gem in the province of Palermo known for its majestic Cathedral, is the centerpiece of this custom. Local bagpipers play for many days from December 8th to January 6th, and bring back many old stories.

Christmas in Sicily
Bagpipers in Monreale – Credits:
Do you want to visit Palermo and Monreale? Join Sicilian Secrets, book the New Year’s Eve Tour of Sicily – Special 5 Days (departure: December 30th) – CLICK HERE

…to have fun everywhere, because Christmas in Sicily is with family & friends!

Wherever you are, the Christmas season is more fun playing card games. It is a way to spend time with friends and relatives, moreover many young people have to opportunity to learn some games they don’t know. It is undoubtedly curious to discover the nicknames used to describe some typical characters of the Sicilian cards. If during a game at Tressette someone wants to say that they are holding the ovu frittu, they obviously have the ace of coins. And if someone plays the giallinusa, they speak about the woman of clubs, dressed in yellow. Finally, if someone asks who has the obbu, whoever has the winking king of cups, confess it!

Christmas in Sicily
Sicilian cards – Credits:
Did you like to learn more about Christmas in Sicily? Continue to follow Sicilian Secrets, read the articles on the blog and the interviews, without forgetting the news on our Facebook page and Instagram. Stay tuned!

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