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Countdown to Christmas 2016 - Week 2 - Italy

Carved life size presepe, Santa Maria d'Aracoeli Presepe Christmas Day Rome, 2012; photo by Margot Balboni


Traditionally, Christmas in Italy is celebrated over several weeks, from December 6th, St. Nicholas Day, until January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany.  On St. Nicholas Day, children write letters to St Nicholas asking for gifts and they hang up either a sock or put a plate on the table on the eve of Nicholas Day’s.  If the children have been good throughout the last year, they will get some fruits, nuts and sweets from St. Nicholas while the naughty ones will also get a sweet, but one looking like lump of coal. The main gift giving day is January 6 - the day on which the Wise Men brought their gifts to the Christ Child.




Fused Dichroic Glass Cufflinks, Teal Green and Blue Tie Dyed on Black, Handmade by Kellie of ResetarGlassArt



Even though Christmas trees are used to help celebrate the holiday season, the focal point of any decoration is the nativity scene, a presepe.  The tradition of the nativity scene originated in Italy.  In 1223 St. Francis of Assisi, wanting to involve the people of his church in understanding and celebrating the birth of Jesus, is said to have celebrated the Christmas mass in front of a living presepe.  Many presepes, from very simple to very ornate, are put up in churches, town squares and in individual houses.




Old Picket Fence & French Fuchsia Black and White Photograph Handmade by Colleen of ButterflyintheAttic



Believe it or not, bagpipe music is one of the most common Christmas sounds, a tradition that dates back to ancient Roman times. Legend says that the zampognari, the shepherds who play the bagpipes, searched for the baby Jesus, and, when he was found, played for the Holy Family.  The modern zampognari, dressed in traditional garb of sheepskin vests, leather breeches, and a woolen cloak, come down from their mountain homes and perform in the market squares and in the piazzas of Rome.  They play before every shrine to the Madonna and every presepe.  The melodies are adapted from centuries old hill tunes. If you have time, here's a great documentary about the Zampogna and the Southern Italian culture told through its indigenous folk music: Zampogna: The Soul of Southern Italy (Documentary Film)


Blue Crazy Lace Agate Copper Chainmaille Beaded Bracelet and Earrings Handmade by Diane of DianesDangles



On Christmas Eve, many Italian families, especially those in the south, celebrate with a big seafood meal known as Esta dei Sette Pesci, the Feast of the Seven Fishes. Traditionally seven types of seafood is eaten, usually including baccala (salted cod), clams, calamari, sardines, eel and others.  Most people then attend midnight mass.  Families who bought tickets attend the mass celebrated by the Pope in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.  When people return from mass, panetonne (similar to a dry fruity sponge cake) and a cup of hot chocolate is often served.   On Christmas Day, Babbo Natale, Father Christmas, might bring children a few small gifts.  



Halloween Treats Candy Corn and Pumpkins Pet Scrunchie Neck Ruffle Handmade by Donna of SewAmazin



The main gift giving day is on January 6, the day of the Epiphany.  Children in Italy believe in a female version of Santa Claus called “La Befana,” an old woman who flies on a broom(!) and brings presents. According to Italian legend, the three Wise Men (Three Kings) asked La Befana for directions to Bethlehem. La Befana was asked to join them them three times but declined each time.  La Befana was finally convinced that she should join the Wise Men by an extremely bright light and a band of angels, but, by then, it was too late.  She never found the Christ Child and has been searching ever since. On January 6, the Feast of Epiphany, La Befana flies out on her broom to drop off stockings filled with treats and collects messages and refreshments left by children throughout the night.  In parts of northern Italy, the Three Kings might bring presents rather than La Befana.



Mixed Metal Textured Copper Earrings with Patina Handmade by Barbara of SolanaKaiDesigns



Now, on to the Countdown to Christmas, filled with artisan handmade items (see above and below), perfect gift ideas for St. Nicholas Day, Christmas Day and/or the Feast of the Epiphany.


With the fast approaching gift giving season in mind, Julie and Blu of Blue Morning Expressions are hosting a twelve-week Countdown to Christmas 2016 on their BluPrint blog. The twelve week time period was chosen to correspond with the Christmas carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”  This week, there were 60 shares by artists of a wide range of handmade gift ideas:  jewelry of all types, knitted shawls and wash cloths, pet themed gifts, crocheted beauties, gift tags, Jewish gifts, fused glass plates, lampwork beads and a whole host of other items.



Teal Ladies Lace Shawl Handknit Malabrigo Rios Yarn Solis Small Medium Crescent Handmade by Nancy of Nancy's Knots, Lace and More



Shop owners on Indiemade, ArtFire, Zibbet, Etsy, SupaDupa, a stand alone website and the like are welcome to share up to three gift items on the Countdown between Friday afternoon at 12:00 p.m. (Eastern time) and Sunday night at 11:59 p.m.  Then a new collection of gift items will begin again the next Friday.  This will continue until the second week in December.  The items shared need to be G-rated.

If you share items on the Countdown to Christmas, you MUST promote the collection and EACH item on at least one social network site, preferably Pinterest where the items can be easily seen and then saved again.  It's only fair to promote each of the participants who have promoted you!



Unusual Spalted Redwood Exotic Wood Earrings Handmade by Roxanne of ExoticWoodJewelryAnd 



In addition to saving each item from the Countdown collection to my Pinterest board and Wanelo collection, I decided to share one item from each of the artists who participated. Here are the rest of the items I’m featuring this week, in an order that was arranged by assigning each item a number and then drawing numbers from my trusty “numbers” bowl. Enjoy!



Multi-Strand Beaded Necklace with Lampwork Dragon Scale Bead and Dragon's Blood Jasper Handmade by Julie and Blu of Blue Morning Expressions



Breast Cancer Awareness Scarf Handmade by Cathy of CraftingMemories1



Gemstone and Pearl Necklace with Peacock Jasper, Red Coral Crystal Beads and Freshwater Pearls Handmade by Mary of PrettyGonzo



Adult Hat - Winter Crochet Beanie with Cuff - Made-To-Order - Handmade by Ruth of RSSDesignsinFiber



Great Spirit Lion Head Pendant Necklace with Hematite Gemstone and Copper Chain Handmade by Connie of Thesingingbeader



Cell Phone Purse, Crossbody Bag, Mobile Phone Pouch Handmade by Anne of ennadoolf



Wire Wrapped Orange and Green Dichroic Dichroic Fused Glass Pendant Handmade by 2GlassThumbs



Music Teachers Rock Desk Or Shelf Clock Handmade From Cherry Wood By KevsKrafts



Large Hole Lampork Glass Bracelet Charm in Ivory and Silver Handmade by Charlotte of Covergirlbeads



Leaf Fairy Blue Leather Turquoise Picasso Druk Magatama BOHO Bracelet Handmade by Kathy of KatsAllThat



Owl Stickers Favor Label - Baby Shower Birthday Party - Set of 50 - Handmade by Nat of Adore by Nat



Large Mustard Gold Tote Bag Handmade by Mary of SimpleEmbroiderySew



Goofy Dog Rescue Earrings, Polymer Clay Frosted Black Lampwork Dangle Jewelry Hnadmade by Catherine of Shadow Dog Designs



I hope you have enjoyed this sampling of some of the handmade gift items that can be found in the Countdown collection hosted by Julie and Blu of Blue Morning Expressions.  To see all the items in the collection, please click here: Countdown to Christmas 2016 - Week 2.  I hope that at least one, maybe more, items piqued your interest and made its way to your shopping list.


What will week 2 bring?  MORE handmade and vintage beauties!  I, for one, am looking forward to it!


If you are so inclined, please make my day and leave a comment (:  Also any promotion will be greatly appreciated by everyone featured in this post.  Thank you!


In case you missed the posts from the past weeks, here are links to take you there:


Countdown to Christmas - Week 1 - Norway



My contact information:


Indiemade shop:  ShadowDogDesigns

Indiemade blog:  ShadowDogDesigns' Blog

Artfire studio:  ShadowDogDesigns

ArtFire Blog:  ShadowDogDesigns' Blog

Google+:  Catherine W

Facebook:  ShadowDogDesigns - Jewelry

Twitter:  ShadowDogDesign

Pinterest:  Shadow Dog Designs

Wanelo:  ShadowDog

Amazine:  ShadowDogDesigns

Rebelmouse:  ShadowDogDesigns

Flickr:  Shadow Dog Designs' Photostream




Beautifully Unique Handmade Jewelry

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Beautiful collection, Catherine. Thank you so much for including my scarf. Shared.

Great handmade items! Love

Great handmade items! Love the post. Thanks so much for including my shawl.

Great post on Christmas

Great post on Christmas traditions, love your selection of handmade crafts, thank you for including my bracelet. Will sharel


Thanks for including my exotic wood earrings in this great collection.

Thank you!

Many thanks for your kind comments, Cathy, Nancy, Diane and Roxanne. Am glad you enjoyed the post.

It's always fun to read your

It's always fun to read your blogs, Catherine. Beautiful items here. Thank you so much for showing my Great Spirit Lion Head Pendant Necklace. Will share.


How fun to have a witch bring Christmas presents (NOT)
It's so much fun to read about all the other traditions around the world. Thank you for taking the time to explain Italy to us. That is interesting about the living nativity. Maybe that's where the tradition here came from. Thank you for including my Draco necklace. I have shared this with everyone on the Internet. :) Many treats to our favorite furry friend - hopefully, he is keeping the yard free of lizards and rain.

How fun is week 2...

Bagpipes in Italy! Who knew and how interesting is that....
Many years ago I actually attended a Feast of the Seven Fishes which was fabulous. Thank you for sharing all the interesting information about Italy.
Thank you for the blog and for including my Leaf Fairy Bracelet......will share on all social sites.


Wow, Catherine, what an enjoyable and informative blog. It's the next best thing to being there, I suppose! Thank you for including my metasmithedl earrings. Sharing now!


Thank you for including my photographs in this lovely post

Fantastic Gift ideas!

Each one of these amazing handmade finds are great purchases!

So interesting - and wonderful gift choices!

Interesting info, Catherine! Especially fun to learn about the bagpipes in Italy! (Bagpipes are also played in Portugal, which surprised me when I visited there.) Thanks so much for the work you put into this extra promotion - and thanks for including my gemstone necklace. Will be sharing, of course! :) Happy autumn treats to the Noble One from Le Gonze.

Thanks!! I've shared on

Thanks!! I've shared on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ennadoolf !! Many thanks for including my crossbody purse!

Nice Selection of Handmade

Nice Selection of Handmade for the Upcoming Holidays! Thanks for including my Made-To-Order Crocheted Hat!

Amazing Shopping Ideas!

Very informative article. Thank you for the extra promotion and including my fused glass cufflinks. Have shared!

Thank you!

Thank you for all the kind comments. It's always a pleasure to feature beautiful handmade items!


Thanks for your enjoyable informative blog about Italy. Thanks for including my ivory large hole slider bead.

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