It’s almost that time of the year when we get to give Christmas gifts to children… but also to exchange gifts between adults! We usually think of Christmas gift-giving as a ritual that was created to make children happy. But where does the tradition of giving gifts to adults come from? In Italy, this custom has very ancient origins.


The origins of Christmas gift-giving in Italy

The tradition of exchanging gifts dates to the Roman era, when the ancient Romans would exchange luxuriant branches on the 1st of January as a wish for prosperity and abundance.

According to legend, it was Titus Tatius who started this custom 700 years before Christ. He was the king of the Sabines and later he co-ruled the Kingdom of Rome with Romulus. It is said that Titus Tatius once asked his subjects to give him a gift every New Year: he wanted a laurel or olive branch from the sacred woods of the Goddess Strenia. This would also explain the origin of the Italian word “strenna”, which is a gift given on the occasion of the festivities. Common citizens eventually began to give each other branches, and the tradition was later “absorbed” and modified by the Romans.

The Saturnalia was an ancient Roman holiday in honour of Saturn, God of agriculture. It was held between the 17th and the 24th of December and included activities such as giving gifts. Adults would exchange sprigs of laurel and mistletoe or small statues of the Lares. With Christianity, gifts among adults became more varied and small gifts began to be given to children, associating the gift with the birth of Jesus.
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What gifts are given for Christmas in Italy?

According to a recent analysis by Google, perfumery and personal care products are the most popular Christmas gifts in Italy. Toys and technological items (including TVs and smartphones) are next, followed by books and stationery items (such as calendars, pens and diaries).

Home fitness equipment and cookware have increased in popularity over the past two years. Other items that appear in the Top 10 list of Christmas gifts include jewellery, clothing and – of course – food!

Who wouldn’t love to receive a basket with some delicious Italian Christmas desserts? And speaking of food, don’t miss our article about Italy’s Traditional Christmas Dishes, from North to South.


Are you looking for an original Christmas gift for language and travel enthusiasts?

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Many people try to think outside of the box and look for original Christmas gifts to surprise their loved ones. Finding the right gift for every friend or relative can be challenging and time-consuming.

At Studiainitalia, we have some ideas for those who love to learn languages and to travel! For example, what about gifting an Italian course in Florence? Cultural immersion is one of the most effective ways of learning a language. A one-week Italian course in Florence starts at 300 euro.

If travel is an issue, you could consider an online art history course for 200 euro. Learning with an expert Italian teacher is an amazing experience and gets you ready for an Italian art holiday in the future!

Is your friend a foodie? Here’s the perfect Christmas gift: a cooking lesson in Italy for 60 euro! It’s an authentic treat to the senses and a great way to better understand the local language and culture.

At Studiainitalia we have many more options and new courses for 2022. If you have any questions, we will be delighted to assist you by chat, telephone or email. You can also request a virtual meeting to meet us online!

Buon Italiano a tutti!


Do you want to know more about our courses?

Contact us: we will be delighted to assist you by chat, telephone or email. You can also request a virtual meeting to meet us online.