Sunday, December 24, 2006


Christmas in Corsica

One of the questions that summer visitors ask about Corsica is “What’s it like there in the winter?” and in particular “What happens at Christmas?” So I asked a few Corsicans to tell me about the things that make Christmas different from the festive season in other countries.

If you are lucky enough to be in Corsica over Christmas, you may hear some Canti Natali - sacred Christmas music - performed in the polyphonic tradition in the churches of the interior. If you would like to hear some extracts of Corsican carols, you can do so at I am indebted to Nino of Terra Corsa (another great Corsican music site) for telling us about this page.

So what do Corsican people eat at Christmas? For a traditional Christmas Day or Christmas Eve meal, you may be served a young goat rather than turkey. Blackbird pate and beignets de brocciu could also find their way onto your plate.

The older, darker Christmas traditions are even more interesting. The people of L’Ile Rousse in the Balagne (and other villages) hold a bonfire in the square and let it burn till midnight mass begins. A local tells us “In the old days people brought sausages, figatelli and polenta and shared a meal around the bonfire”.

And there’s a Christmas prayer - l’occhio - to ward off the evil eye: the old people used to teach their youngsters this prayer, but only on Christmas Eve. It was considered very bad luck to repeat the prayer or teach it to someone at any other time. So we won’t be repeating it here…

Happy Christmas everyone!

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