The Magic of Christmas in Modica, Sicily

Cities

Modica is a small city in the south east of Sicily, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and therefore a truly city to discover.

It’s not only the city of raw chocolate, baroque design and well-known Montalbano tv series as Modica is a little jem of the Mediterranean, especially at Christmas time.

 

CHRISTMAS TIME IN SICILY

Christmas time in Sicily is a very heartfelt time of the year in which religious traditions are deeply rooted in every social class, both in small villages and large cities.

From Catania to Palermo, from Modica to Marsala, Christmas is that moment of the year when every corner, every street and every house is decorated to celebrate and every typical bakery offer biscuits and special breads.

It is the celebration of the family, actually. Children begin to feel the holiday atmosphere and for two weeks will be happy to spend more time with their parents.

Christmas, like many other typical Sicilian festivals, is known for its abundance that emerges in the streets of the city and on the dinner tables. Among typical illuminations called “luminarie”, rich succulent dishes and entertaining religious representations, this time of the year is the most festive and we want to tell you how.

 

MODICA AS A LIVING NATIVITY SCENE

The old town of Modica is considered a true hamlet perched on the side of the hill, sorts of crib with very small houses one next to the other with lights at every door instead of the street lamps. Throughout the year, from dusk to dawn, these lights create a warm and familiar atmosphere, like a crib.

During the Christmas festivities you can also see the representation of real live nativity scenes, with people animating every character of the nativity, in the flesh: the little Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the three kings, the cow and the lamb.

 

WHEN DOES THE HOLIDAY SEASON OPEN IN MODICA?

After the day of the Immaculate Conception on 8th of December, the feast of Saint Lucia on the 13th of december is the most felt, especially by children.

Lucia was a courageous woman from Syracuse that brought the light of peace in 304 AC and for this reason she was made saint. Its history is known throughout Europe, and is celebrated especially in Sicily, northern Italy and Sweden. It is the feast of lights, called in a thousand other ways in every part of the world. It’s the feast of the new light, both outward and inward. The light of love.

The 13th December night is the shortest night of the year for every kid that receive gifts and candies the morning after the saint comes.

The night before, the children leave biscuits and milk for the saint and her donkey on the terrace of the house and, once gone to bed, they’ll hear Saint Lucia’s bell being rung secretly by their parents.

It is a very beautiful story that still goes on and cheers children and adults who still love to receive their "Santa Lucia" gifts

 

CHRISTMAS DISHES IN MODICA

Christmas in Sicily is a serious thing, especially when it comes to eating.

In Modica there are many typical dishes and the most loved ones on Christmas Day are “street food” dishes

pasta

SCACCE

Typical focaccia made of fresh pasta dough filled with different ingredients and baked:

  • Tomato and onion
  • Parsley and onion
  • Tomato and cheese
  • Tomato and eggplant
  • Ricotta and sausage
  • Ricotta and spinach
  • Parsley and anchovies

M’PANATE

The same fresh pasta as scacce filled with broccoli or spinach and baked in the form of a crescent

BAKED PASTA

Blanched pasta is filled with pork sauce, cheese and seasonal vegetables and then baked in the oven. Each family actually has its own secret recipe.

SWEETS AND FRUITS

Naturally there is a tempting choice of typical desserts:

  • La giuggiulena, the typical crunchy almond and honey bar 
  • Modica raw chocolate 
  • Dried fruit: dried chickpeas (called Calia), pistachios and peanuts
  • mandarins and oranges

Pandoro and panettone are typical of northern Italy but nowadays are also consumed in Sicily

chocolate

Do you want to take a tour of Modica old town? Or learn how to cook a typical Modica recipe? Check out our experiences!

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