Christmas stories seen through children's eyes Christmas in the countries of Europe - Page 11

depending on the regional cuisine. Christmas on the 25th is celebrated with a family lunch, consisting of different types of meat dishes, cheese and local sweets. The ancient Christmas festival called Ndocciata is celebrated on December 8 and Christmas Eve in Agnone, Molise, with a parade of torches leading up to the "Bonfire of Brotherhood". On Christmas Eve, in the squares of many towns of the eastern Sicily, a big bonfire, U Zuccu, is lit to warm the Baby Jesus. Traditions regarding the exchanging of gifts vary from region to region, as this might take place either on Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day. Presents for children are left underneath the Christmas tree either by Santa Claus (called Babbo Natale) or, according to older traditions, by Baby Jesus himself. In some regions children receive gifts earlier (at St. Lucy's Day) or later (on Epiphany).