Hey-ho, hey-ho! Christmas is the time of the year to be jolly, and jolly does not even touch upon the cheerful and warm spirit that the Romans inspire, especially when they are enjoying their Christmas holiday, and temporarily breaking free from the tediousness of working!
2020 was a rather sad year. We couldn’t go to theatres and concert halls, the Christmas market had been shut down and ice-skating was a big no-no given the whole distancing thing.
So here we are, getting to the end of 2021, about to hop onto our flight or train to Rome to spend a lovely Christmas holiday with our family…what should we keep in mind while planning a family trip to Rome? Well, look no further than Europe4Kids. We’ve got you covered on memorable family fun!
Monuments frosted with Christmas lights
Imagine what it would feel like if you stepped in a room that was filled with buzzing fireflies and cheerful fireworks – a explosion of colours and lights…Well, this is what is feels like to walk along through Rome’s ancient streets at Christmas time. In the Centro Storico (meaning “historical centre” – the part of town with all the ancient stuff and cobble stones), you will notice delightful designs hanging above your head, leading the way!
The doubt might arise in your head, whether Christmas is a good time to visit Rome. The answer is: YES, abolsutely! Rome is fantastic in the holiday season: shops showcase their best window displays and churches gear up for one of the biggest celebrations of the Christian calendar! The light displays themselves are the attraction, but what makes the whole experience so breathtaking is that the lights frosting some of the most incredible monuments in the world.
When exactly does the Christmas season start and end?
First of all, it is important to note that the Christmas season in Italy is not quite the same as it is in the US or the UK. Indeed, the Christmas season officially begins on the 8th of January. This very important day marks the celebration of a Catholic holiday, called the Immaculate Conception. If you’re in Rome on this day, you will probably see lots of smiles as schools and offices have a day off and people will be most likely roaming the streets of Rome Everyone rushing to find a present for their loved ones. And the families that aren’t present hunting will probably be home, decorating their Christmas tree at home, as this is traditionally the day on which people dig out their dusty ornament boxes from the garage and start making their houses glow like a 90s discotheque!
Another important day is January 6th – the Epiphany – the day when the City of Rome celebrates the arrival of the Three Kings into Bethlehem. This day marks the sad end to the jolliness o Christmas. Epiphany gifts for children are sometimes given the morning of the 6th, so you can enjoy the festive season even after Christmas Day, so, at least for the little ones, it feels like the party isn’t over yet…but sadly, before slipping under the bed sheets, kids will have to pack their bags for the next school-day and the adults have to prepare themselves to get on with real life on the following day! The famous saying is: “Epifania, tutte le feste porta via!,” which translates to “Epiphany takes all the festivities away!”.
What you should know about the weather in Rome
A question we often get in the planning stages of our tours is: “what is the temperature like in Rome during xmas?.” Well, the inconclusive answer for you, my friends, is that it really depends on the year! Some years it is sunny and strangely pleasant to stroll outside. Once every decade or so it snows, and it seems like this is going to happen less frequently – Ehem! Thank you global warming! As a point of reference, the temperature at the end of December sways from a high of 13 degrees Celsius (55.4 F) to about 2 degrees Celsius (35,6 F). Check the forecast before you pack!
Our advice, when it comes to the packing process is to never underestimate the Italian cold! Especially for the younger members the family, we recommend packing thicker socks, a fluffy scarf and an extra pair of gloves if you have them. We would also advise to trade in t-shirts for longer sleeve tops (you can always roll the sleeves up if the sun decide to sneak out of the clouds)! Rome never gets freezing-freezing, so thermal layers might be a stretch!
Here are some tips for a truly authentic Roman food experience
You can not come to Roma and not have a proper Roman family meal for Christmas. A piece of advice that you could take away from this blog post is that over Christmas a lot of the really tasty restarts tend to get fully booked quite quickly, so we would recommend that you get to the family table bookings as soon as possible if you do not want to miss out on the good places or wait in line for ages in the cold.
Lunch: meat-lover heaven
For those of you who are meat-lovers, you will like this particularly! A typical Roman Christmas lunch cannot be complete without abbacchio, lamb cooked with garlic and rosemary, sometimes small pieces of ham, and served with potatoes or another hearty vegetable. For those of you that do not love meat, you can also rejoice…pasta is always on the table – quite literally – and it can absolutely not be eaten cold…so dive those forks in!
Dinner: “the Feast of the Seven Fishes”
On another note, let’s talk dinner! The important dinner – the one served on Christmas Eve before midnight mass – features fish, fish, fish…7 times fish! This dinner is also known as “the Feast of the Seven Fishes”. If you didn’t know this already, the number seven is kind of a big deal around here…the number three is an even bigger deal, but to know more about this you might have to book a sneaky Private Ancient Rome Tour with us!
If you want any more advice on family-friendly restaurants, or the best meals to order when on an Italian food binge, do not hesitate to contact us, and we will do our best to share the best-hidden food secrets of the Eternal City!
A very special occasion
Is there anything cooler than a blessing from the Pope himself?
One of the most special experiences that you can have on your family holiday in Rome is to receive a Christmas blessing from the Pope himself! Christmas Even Mass at the Vatican is the most popular place to be for worship! If you are not that much into crowds, this might not be the best place for you, but if you simply cannot resist not having a very special blessing, then it might be great for you to consider coming to terms with the chaotic crowds that await you! If you want to book a seat for the inside of the Basilica, you must be an extremely well-organised planner and book very far in advance! These tickets are very hard to come by, and when they are released, they are – puff – gone in a heartbeat! I you cannot get your hands on these tickets, it’s still okay! You can watch the ceremony from St Peter’s square as it is live streamed on huge TVs.
If you’re unsure about the things that you could be doing while in the Eternal City, take a look at our “Fun family activities that will ensure the Most Incredible Family Christmas in the Eternal City” blog post.
Are you ready for a Jolly 2021 Christmas?