Le Ultime dallo Stivale

N.10

22 dicembre 2023 – Eleonora Corradi

Italian Christmas sweets, including panettone and pandoro, are permanent presences on tables throughout the country, and some have become famous worldwide.
Panettone originated in the 9th century in Milan: the traditional recipe calls for a dough made with flour, eggs, butter, raisins, and candied fruit. Pandoro, on the other hand, originated in Verona, in 1800: the famous entrepreneur Melegatti patented it soon after and marked its meteoric rise.
Panforte is a typical sweet from Siena, originally intended exclusively for wealthy nobles, as it contained extremely expensive ingredients at the time, such as orange, citron, melon, almonds and various spices.
Tronchetto di Natale is the most popular Christmas dessert in Piedmont: to be precise, its origins can be attributed to French pastry, which precisely had a great influence in Piedmontese lands in the past. Legend has it that the shape of the log recalls the chestnut or oak wood that was blessed in the fireplace on Christmas night.
In Umbria and Lazio, Panpepato, a hearty and richly flavored dessert, cannot be missing from Christmas tables: it is prepared by making a dough of walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and dark chocolate to which spices, flavorings and dried fruit are added.
In Campania, on the other hand, we find Struffoli: small balls made with flour, sugar, eggs, and lard and baked or pan-fried. They are often served with pieces of candied fruit, honey, and sugar.



DID YOU KNOW?

The world’s largest Christmas tree is in Umbria: it entered the Guinness Book of World Records in 1991 and consists of 800 light elements distributed along the sides of Mount Ingino, which towers above the medieval town of Gubbio. It is lit on December 7 and remains illuminated from dusk until late at night throughout the Christmas season.
The world’s largest nativity scene, on the other hand, is in Manarola, Cinque Terre: the official opening of this nativity scene runs from December 8 until mid-January. It was first assembled in 1976, placing about 300 characters, built using recycled materials and decorated with 15,000 light bulbs and 7 kilometers of electric cables, on 4,000 square meters of land overlooking the sea.

 

PAROLE DIFFICILI

Il puntale = elemento decorativo posto sulla punta dell’albero di Natale.

Decorative element placed on the top of the Christmas tree.

Il puntale a forma di stella è un classico del Natale.

The star-shaped tree-topper is a Christmas classic.

 

Il muschio = piccola pianticella che cresce in masse compatte e soffici, coprendo tronchi e rocce in luoghi umidi e ombrosi.

Small seedling that grows in compact, fluffy masses, covering logs and rocks in moist, shady places.

Per decorare il mio presepe, sono andata a prendere il muschio nei boschi.

To decorate my nativity scene, I went to pick up moss in the woods.

 

Il pirottino = involucro di carta oleata a forma di scodella con bordo pieghettato, usato come contenitore di pasticcini, cioccolatini, paste… 

Bowl-shaped greaseproof paper wrapper with pleated edge, used as a container for fine pastries, chocolates, petit fours…

Il pirottino protegge il fondo del panettone dal calore diretto durante la cottura.

The ramekin protects the bottom of the panettone from direct heat during baking.

 

Il vin brulé = vino bollito con spezie, buccia di limone e zucchero, servito caldo.

Wine boiled with spices, lemon peel and sugar, served hot.

Il vin brulé è una bevanda venduta in molti mercatini di Natale. 

Mulled wine is a drink sold at many Christmas markets.

Italian Christmas traditions
Picture of Eleonora Corradi

Eleonora Corradi

Nata e cresciuta a Milano, ha studiato e lavorato a Milano (dove ha ottenuto il suo PhD), Londra, Grenoble, Berna, Parigi e New York; attualmente si occupa di traduzioni tecniche e di insegnamento dell’italiano come seconda lingua.
È autrice e traduttrice di numerosi articoli scientifici pubblicati su riviste specializzate e ha collaborato alla stesura di testi per La Settimana Enigmistica e per pubblicazioni di scuole internazionali.
Da quasi venti anni insegna italiano agli stranieri e negli ultimi sette ha lavorato presso Collina Italiana. Durante le sue lezioni, ama arricchire la didattica della lingua e della grammatica con la lettura di articoli, libri, fumetti e brevi testi, al fine di far conoscere ai suoi studenti la cultura, le tradizioni e le espressioni tipicamente italiane, utilizzando anche giochi e curiosità sulla lingua, l’origine e gli usi delle parole.

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