Thanksgiving in Italy: a look into La Festa del Ringraziamento and its amazing traditions

by Marzia Parmigiani
14 minutes read
Thanksgiving in Italy lcn firm blog

“Wear gratitude like a cloak, and it will feed every corner of your life”.


Thanksgiving is not just an American holiday; Italy has its own version of the holiday, known as “La Festa del Ringraziamento”. While the holiday shares similarities with American Thanksgiving, it also has its unique traditions and is celebrated in different ways across Italy.

In this content, we will explore Thanksgiving in Italy: a look into La Festa del Ringraziamento and its amazing traditions. We’ll talk about the history and cultural significance of Italian Thanksgiving, traditional food and patron saint traditions, and how the holiday is celebrated in modern times. Get ready to discover a different kind of Thanksgiving, Italian style!

History of Thanksgiving in Italy

When you think of Thanksgiving, you may immediately picture a turkey, pumpkin pie, and family gathered around the table. However, Thanksgiving celebrations vary around the world, and Italy has its own unique way of celebrating.

La Festa del Ringraziamento – or Italian Thanksgiving – is a day to give thanks for the harvest and express gratitude for the blessings of life.

In this blog, we’ll dive into the history, food traditions, and patron saint celebrations of Italian Thanksgiving.

History of Thanksgiving in Italy: origins of La Festa del Ringraziamento

The origins of Italian Thanksgiving can be traced back to ancient times when the Romans held a harvest festival to give thanks to Ceres, the goddess of agriculture. Later on, the Catholic Church added a religious aspect to the festival, making it a day to give thanks to God for the harvest. The tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving on the last Sunday of October started in the 16th century in Lucca, Tuscany, during a period of severe famine. The townspeople prayed to their patron saint, San Frediano, for rain, and when it finally came, they celebrated with a feast of thanksgiving.


Cultural significance of Thanksgiving in Italy

Thanksgiving is a deeply ingrained cultural tradition in Italy, and many families gather together to share a meal and give thanks for the blessings of life. It’s a day to reflect on the abundance of the harvest and express gratitude for the simple things in life, like family, health, and love.

Comparison of Italian Thanksgiving with American Thanksgiving

While Italian Thanksgiving and American Thanksgiving share some similarities, they also have several differences. American Thanksgiving is a national holiday and is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. The focus is on the pilgrims and Native Americans coming together for a feast in the new world. Italian Thanksgiving, on the other hand, is a religious holiday that is celebrated on the last Sunday of October. The focus is on giving thanks to God for the harvest, and the celebrations are more intimate and family-centered.

Traditional Italian Thanksgiving Food Popular Italian: Thanksgiving Dishes

No Thanksgiving celebration in Italy is complete without a delicious feast. The menu varies from region to region, but some traditional dishes include roasted turkey, stuffed artichokes, pumpkin risotto, and sweet potato gnocchi. For dessert, Italians typically indulge in a variety of sweet treats, such as crostata di ricotta, chestnut cake, or tiramisu.

Regional variations of Thanksgiving Menu in Italy

Just like the food traditions in Italy, the Thanksgiving menu varies depending on the region. In northern Italy, for example, it’s common to have roasted meats, such as beef or pork, while in southern Italy, seafood dishes, like fried calamari, are more prevalent. Each region also has its own unique dishes, such as pumpkin and amaretto cookies in Lombardy or roasted guinea fowl in Umbria. Food-related Traditions During Thanksgiving Food is an essential part of the Italian Thanksgiving celebration, and there are several food-related traditions that go along with it.

For example, in some regions, it’s customary to place a chestnut or bean underneath each plate to ensure prosperity for the coming year.

In Tuscany, a special bread called pan co’ santi is baked, which contains sultanas, candied fruits, and walnuts and is shared amongst family and friends.

Traditional Italian Thanksgiving food

Thanksgiving is all about getting together with your loved ones and enjoying a feast. And if you are looking for an exotic twist to your traditional Thanksgiving menu, Italian cuisine is one of the best options to explore. Let’s dive into some of the popular Italian Thanksgiving dishes, regional variations of Thanksgiving menu, and food-related traditions during Thanksgiving.

Popular Italian Thanksgiving dishes

  • Lasagna: Lasagna is an Italian classic that is a must-have dish during the Thanksgiving feast. The Italian version of lasagna uses béchamel sauce, meat, and cheese layered between sheets of pasta.
  • Roast Turkey with Chestnut Stuffing: Roast turkey with chestnut stuffing is a popular Thanksgiving dish in Italy. The chestnut stuffing gives the roast turkey a rich and nutty flavour.
  • Ravioli: Ravioli is a type of pasta dish that is stuffed with cheese, meat, or vegetables. During Thanksgiving, Italians prepare ravioli with a special filling that includes roasted pumpkin, nutmeg, and cream.
  • Capon: Capon is a traditional Italian bird that is similar to a turkey. It is usually stuffed with breadcrumbs and herbs and roasted until it is tender and juicy. Regional Variations of Thanksgiving Menu in Italy: Italy is known for its diverse regional cuisines, and the Thanksgiving menu varies from region to region. In the north, polenta is a popular dish that is served with roasted game birds. In the central regions, you will find tortellini and cannelloni served with roasted meats. In the south, seafood dishes such as grilled octopus, shrimp, and calamari are common.
Italian Lasagna

Food-related traditions during Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends, and feasting in Italy. In some regions, it is customary to offer food and wine to the poor or the less fortunate. In other regions, people donate food to local charities or participate in food drives. Wine is an essential part of the Thanksgiving feast, and Italians usually serve red wines such as Chianti or Barolo with their meal. So, if you want to try something new this Thanksgiving, why not add an Italian twist to your traditional Thanksgiving menu?

From classic lasagna to turkey with chestnut stuffing, there are plenty of delicious Italian dishes to choose from. And if you want to truly embrace the Italian culture, don’t forget to offer a glass of wine to your guests and donate food to those in need!

Italian fiorentina

Patron saint traditions during Italian Thanksgiving

In addition to giving thanks for the harvest, Italian Thanksgiving is also a day to honor the patron saint of each region. Each saint has its own unique backstory and miracles attributed to them. Patron Saint Festivals During Thanksgiving Throughout Italy, there are several patron saint festivals that take place during Thanksgiving. In Naples, for example, the Feast of San Gennaro is celebrated, during which the miraculous liquefaction of the saint’s blood is observed. In Sicily, the Feast of Santa Rosalia is celebrated, during which the saint’s bones are taken out on procession. During Thanksgiving, Italy celebrates patron saints with various cultural and religious events. Patron saints are selected based on their association with the history and culture of a particular city or town. Many cities and towns have multiple patron saints, each of whom has a dedicated celebration centered around them. Patron Saint Festivals During Thanksgiving in Rome, Thanksgiving celebrations center around the city’s patron saint, Saint Peter.

The Vatican plays a central role in these celebrations, and many Catholics gather in St. Peter’s Square to attend mass and participate in the festivities.

The Festival of the Chianina Beef is also a popular event during Thanksgiving in Tuscany, where locals celebrate the region’s patron saint by preparing and serving Chianina beef dishes. The way patron saints are celebrated during Thanksgiving varies significantly across Italy. As we said, in Naples, the celebration of San Gennaro, the city’s patron saint, is an elaborate multi-day event. The festival features parades, fireworks, and religious processions. Similarly, in Florence, the people of Tuscany celebrate the region’s patron saint, San Giovanni Battista, with a firework display, a historic soccer game, and a parade featuring historic costumes.

These regional differences further highlight the diversity of Italian culture and the importance of patron saints in Italian heritage. In conclusion, Thanksgiving in Italy offers a unique perspective on the importance of traditional food and patron saint traditions. Celebrations vary from region to region, highlighting the rich and diverse cultural heritage of Italy. Despite the differences, Italy’s Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on gratitude, heritage, and community.

Saint Peter in Rome

Regional differences in patron saint celebrations

Each region in Italy has its own patron saint, and the celebrations vary depending on the region. In some regions, the focus is more on religious traditions, while in others, the emphasis is on local folklore and cuisine. For example, in Lecce, it’s customary to make Ciceri e Tria, a traditional pasta dish made with chickpeas and tripe, during the celebration of Santa Croce.

Celebrating Thanksgiving in Italy today

While Italian Thanksgiving traditions have been passed down through generations, modern-day celebrations also include new influences. For example, the trend of Black Friday sales and Thanksgiving football games have made their way to Italy as well.

Impact of globalization on Italian Thanksgiving traditions

Globalization has also had an impact on Italian Thanksgiving traditions. As the world becomes more interconnected, it’s not uncommon for Italian families to incorporate new foods or traditions from other countries into their Thanksgiving celebrations. One of the biggest challenges facing Italians celebrating Thanksgiving today is the commercialization of the holiday. With the rise of consumerism, the focus has shifted away from giving thanks and spending time with loved ones to buying things and getting a good deal. Many Italians are concerned that this trend will continue to erode the true meaning of Italian Thanksgiving.

The Bottom Line

In this content we discovered Thanksgiving in Italy: a look into La Festa del Ringraziamento and its amazing traditions. Italian Thanksgiving is a beautiful tradition that allows us to express gratitude for the blessings in our lives. From its ancient origins to its modern-day celebrations, it’s a time-honored tradition that brings families and communities together. Whether you’re indulging in a delicious feast or participating in patron saint celebrations, Italian Thanksgiving is a reminder to pause and give thanks for the good things in life. Nowadays, more and more Italians are embracing La Festa del Ringraziamento, especially with the growing influence of American culture. Modern-day celebrations of Thanksgiving in Italy share many similarities with those in the US. Families gather to give thanks for the blessings they received throughout the year, share a special meal, and enjoy each other’s company.

Thanksgiving in Italy 2023

Today Celebrating Thanksgiving in Italy also comes with its own set of challenges. For one, it is not a public holiday, with offices, schools, and most businesses still operating on that day. Therefore, family members often have to make special arrangements to be able to attend the celebration. Another challenge is the limited availability of some ingredients that are essential to the traditional Italian menu, particularly for those living outside of big cities. Despite these challenges, Italians continue to observe Thanksgiving and pay tribute to their Patron Saints with zest and devotion. La Festa del Ringraziamento has indeed become a special occasion for families to be grateful, bond, and enjoy the company of their loved ones. As with any other holiday, Thanksgiving is a time for reflection and community. While it may not have the same historical roots in Italy as in America, it has become a cherished time for Italians to come together and express their gratitude for life’s blessings.

As Italians continue to celebrate their unique version of Thanksgiving, La Festa del Ringraziamento, many traditional customs have stood the test of time.

From savoring an array of delightful dishes to taking part in religious patron saint festivals, the ways of observing this holiday vary by region and family. Today, with globalization slowly changing Italy’s longstanding practices, many young Italians battle to preserve their cultural heritage while embracing new customs. Nonetheless, Italy’s Thanksgiving is an eventful time spent with loved ones, feasting, and appreciating all that we have in life. Keep following us for more articles about Italy and to discover the new LCN App!

Leave a Comment

* By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.