The magic of expectations, the days that seem to slow down, wishing for Christmas day to finally arrive and longing to fill the time with something special. It’s the top notch of celebrations, the one looked at, no matter the age, with children’s eyes, mesmerized by the festively lit-up streets, the colorful decorations and the crisp December air.
Yes, expectation, but also the getting ready for the upcoming event.
And the whole of Italy, from North to South, from villages to valleys, from small cities to big ones, is dressed up of an incredible variety of traditions throughout the time that leads to the end-of-year festivities.
Traditions that live and come back to life preparing for the year’s most beautiful celebration, and they do so by way of rituals and customs that are lost in the mists of time.
Starting with the Advent calendar, a tradition that Loacker brings to the US with its reusable reindeer advent calendar, made of felt and that can be filled with delicious individually wrapped Loacker Minis. It’s a special calendar that all children (and not just children) receive at the beginning of December. Every day, from December first to the 24th, they open a window behind which there’s a small surprise.
Another ancient tradition continues to take place in the northern parts of Italy, the one of Saint Nicholas and the Krampus. The good old white bearded man, dressed like a bishop, brings gifts between December 5th and 6th. It’s tradition to leave him salt for the donkey, a glass of grappa, and a saucer with white flour that the saint will use to cover his footprints.
Saint Nicholas is accompanied by a sinister companion, the demon-like Krampus, a beast that is thought to punish children who misbehave. Traditionally young men dress up as the Krampus on the night of December 5th and roam the streets frightening the little ones, but also the adults, with rusty chains and bells.
Moving further south, on Epiphany Eve, the night between January 5 and 6, the “Befana” brings the festive season to an end; one final day of heartfelt celebration before the kids return to school after the Christmas holidays. More often than not portrayed as a hag, with a long nose and a sharp chin, the Befana travels far and wide riding a broomstick, visiting the homes of all children and filling their socks with toys, chocolates and candies, if they are good, and sugar-coal as a sweet warning for the naughtier ones.
The list of Italian traditions linked to the most magical time of the year could be almost endless, not to mention the multitude of flavors and colors of traditional dishes which fill the streets of every region with delicious aromas, and each year they bring back to life recipes which have been handed down unchanged for centuries. A never-ending list of delicacies, each having its own history and secrets.
This is how small and big rituals come to life in every home, not just linked to the sumptuous meals and elegant holiday dinners, but also to the small everyday treats one should give oneself throughout the festive season. Above all, the typical hot chocolate, also known as Densa. A soothing, dense and super velvety pleasure, the Densa wins the prize for best comfort food, with the added bonus that it is extremely easy to prepare. Just mix cocoa, milk, sugar and cornstarch (or potato starch) and be sure to have your favorite Loacker Quadratini flavor in your pantry to add that extra touch that’ll make this comforting drink an even greater pleasure.
An how can one then resist the temptation of preparing freshly baked home cookies, a regular occurrence loved by both adults, who enjoy the aroma and warmth that spread from the kitchen to the rest of the house, and by the little ones, who can’t wait to get their hands smudged up and to indulge themselves with the decorations. We recommend a simple and mouthwatering recipe to enhance the holidays with the taste of Loacker Quadratini wafer pops.
What do you need for your wafer pops?
–Your favorite Loacker Quadratini (Hazelnut, Chocolate, Lemon…)
–Dark, milk and white chocolate for melting
–Favorite toppings (coconut flakes, chocolate shavings, hazelnut pieces)
Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and only microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each time. Once chocolate is looking almost melted with just a few lumps, don’t microwave it again just stir the chocolate until it is completely smooth.
Gently insert the stick into the Quadratini and dip the Quadratini straight down into the chocolate until it is completely covered with melted chocolate. Add coconut flakes, chocolate shavings or hazelnut pieces then place them into an airtight box and put them in the fridge so that the chocolate can harden. Ready to eat after approx. half an hour.
Not just a tasty idea, but also an original one to decorate the dining table or to gift relatives and friends with.
What can we say? Let Christmas begin!