Christmas Eve is a major holiday to Italians. Some celebrate the Feast of Seven fishes, but we all have a celebration with food, family, presents and, of course, yelling. These factors make an Italian Christmas Eve better than Christmas itself!
After all, it is the night before Christmas. Your mind is racing with all of the possible presents “Santa” will bring you. I think that the anticipation for Christmas is better than actual Christmas Day because Christmas day arrives, and then it's gone in the blink of an eye.
Spending time with your family sounds nice, until it actually happens. Italians have their own way of speaking. They are notoriously hot-headed and loud. Almost every conversation turns into an argument. Someone always starts a fight and a screaming match ensues – even though they are usually over something small. Thankfully, all the fighting halts as soon as the dishes hit the table because we will all be too busy chewing and savoring our delicious meal.
Everybody knows that Italians love to eat. Therefore, the preparation for dinner is an all day affair. The whole family is involved. Your eyes will be bigger than your mouth when you see the appetizers, pasta and seafood. It is guaranteed your spread will include shrimp cocktail, clams oreganato and fried calamari. You’ll be stuffed beyond belief. But save some room because before you know it, it's dessert time!
Just like with dinner, the table is full of desserts. There is homemade struffoli (or "honey balls" as my family calls them), cakes, cannolis and other Italian cookies. FYI struffoli is like crack. You can't stop with one, you have to keep eating until the whole plate is gone. I hope you're wearing your stretchy pants.
Hopefully, your family is feeling generous. You pray for money or gift cards, which is always more useful than an ugly Christmas sweater from your Nona. The upside to receiving less than perfect gifts is Christmas is tomorrow! Hopefully "Santa" brought you everything on your wishlist.
When the night is over, chances are you are full, sleepy and ready for your relatives to leave until the next holiday. Finally, you can go to sleep and wake up ready for Christmas morning!