Italians are famous all over the world for good food and drink especially wine, so you may expect that this would make Christmas a time when there would be lots of celebrations. In general you will find major family gatherings and lots of food and wine at Christmas time. This has been a tradition here for many hundreds of years. The roots of these festivities in Italy are of course in the Roman catholic church which still now dominates the Italian religious scene.
When the reformed and evangelical believers began to form into communities in Italy they marked themselves out as different from the Roman church. This manifests itself in many ways – unadorned church buildings, calling meeting places ‘Temples’ not Chapels or Churches and there are other examples.
So it may not then surprise you to hear that, in general, the reformed, evangelical churches in Italy tend to understate the Christmas festivities. . Often there is no significant (if any)mention of Christmas even if it falls on a Sunday.
This can be seen as a good thing in that, like many places in the world, overindulgence at Christmas often disgraces Christ rather than celebrates Him. However in Italy the church in general has gone so far as to almost ignore the celebration of the birth of Christ.The time when almost everyone can be engaged in some kind of conversation about the Jesus baby, the Christ-child etc and the Italian believers are significant by their absence in general.It is a great shame but things are changing.
Reclaiming Christmas for Christ is a mammoth task in a country which is both 98% Roman Catholic (48%practicing) and hosts one of the largest satanic communities in Europe (Turin).
The Good News is that there are signs of small changes and in recent years there have been a variety of initiatives in many of the larger cities in Italy while some of the most influential Christian websites here are engaging younger believers especially in why this opportunity is not being grasped.
Here in OM Italy we have been taking our own initiatives in the village where we are situated and bringing the tradition of carol singing into style.We hit a few places in the village last year and recruited a couple of local believers to the cause. This year we hope to be more in number and be joined by some local believers from the Salvation Army. Putting Christ back into Christmas is the goal and we are going to have fun doing it.