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Consequently, Christmas fairs, merry-making and torch processions, honor not only the birth of Christ, but also the birth of the "Unconquered Sun." "Natale," the Italian word for Christmas, is literally the translation for "birthday." A delightful, but rapidly disappearing tradition in Italy, is the ushering in of the coming festivities by the "Piferari" or fifers.They descend from the mountains of the Abruzzo and Latium playing inviting and characteristic tunes on their bagpipes, filling the air with anticipation for the joyous celebration to come.Christians of the East Orthodox Church traditionally celebrated Christmas on January 7, while Jeffery Sheler’s 1996 report ‘In Search of Christmas’ states that a document found in North Africa dated back to the year 243 suggests that Jesus was born on March 28.Furthermore, Luke 2:7-8 clearly states that Jesus was born in a time when the shepherds of Palestine were out with their flocks, which due to the cold, is not possible in the winter.A Roman Christian scholar by the name of Valentinus produced the first documentation of Christmas being celebrated on December 25 as a special feast in the year 354.Particularly, a Greek Saint from that era called Saint Nicolas, who lived in what is today known as Turkey, was also well-known for delivering presents to children on that day.Discard garlic; cool and serve at room temperature. Boil for 5 minutes, being careful not to let it boil over. Wet hands with cold water and stick puffs together forming wreath rings, pyramids, or dome shapes.Dip puffs, approximately 12 at a time, into honey and roll around to coat evenly. Decorate with toasted pine nuts, candied orange peel, and cake-decorating sprinkles.
Peasant folklore theorizes that to eat nuts favors the fertility of the earth and aids in the increase of flocks and family.Another tradition is the burning of the Yule log, which must stay alight until New Year's Day.This, again, is an example of pagan and Christian blending.There may be grottoes, small trees, lakes, rivers, the lights of "Bethlehem" in the background, angels hung from wires, and occasionally, even local heroes. There is often a contest between churches of the same town for the best Crib.
People go from church to church to view and compare the Cribs and displays.
The pagan belief explains the purifying and revitalizing power of fire, and that with the burning log, the old year and its evils are destroyed.