When it comes to Christmas traditions, celebrations and, most importantly, la famiglia, there is no other place in the world quite like Italy. It is a great place to be at Christmas time, as the colorful ways and traditions in which the festival is celebrated captivates many.
Christmas in Italy means a season of celebrations and not just celebrating one particular day. Christmas in Italy is really about the joy of family. Children in Italy do not write letters to Santa. Rather, they write letters to their parents, telling them how much they love and appreciate them. The letters are placed under the father's plate for the Christmas Eve dinner and read after the meal. Christmas in Italy is traditionally celebrated from Christmas Eve through the Epiphany (January 6)
The Italian Christmas season generally lasts three weeks beginning with the Novena, the eight days before Christmas. This is a period of celebration when music fills the air. Preparations for the Christmas holiday are begun in earnest by families during the Novena.
Traditionally, a meatless dinner is eaten on Christmas Eve with the family, which includes seven types of fish (for the sacraments). Sweets may include biscotti, panforte, pandoro and almost always includes panettone. This is all followed by a living nativity scene and a midnight mass. Dinner on Christmas day is usually meat based.
information from www.lagazzettaitaliana.com