Christmas Gastronomic and Cultural Traditions in Val Pusteria

The Puster Valley, nestled between Brixen and Lienz, is a vibrant center of history and culture in South Tyrol that carefully preserves its traditions, including those linked to Christmas.

Christmas Gastronomic Traditions in Val Pusteria

Christmas in Val Pusteria is an opportunity to savor local culinary specialties. Among the most typical dishes on the tables, there are some that cannot be missed.

Lo zelten: a sweet bread made with dried fruit, raisins, nuts, and spices. It is a typical dessert also enjoyed in other Alpine regions. Prepared with various types of dried fruit, such as walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, figs, and apricots, blended with spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger. Zelten is traditionally eaten for breakfast or as a snack, accompanied by milk or coffee

I krapfen: fried pastries filled with jam or pastry cream, to be honest, are enjoyed throughout the year! Krapfen are made with a dough consisting of flour, eggs, milk, sugar, and yeast. The filling can be apricot jam, pastry cream, or chocolate cream, and during typical Christmas markets, you can find them in various shapes and quantities!

I canederli: fresh pasta dumplings filled with meat, cheese, or vegetables. They are a typical dish of South Tyrol and are traditionally served in broth or with a sauce.

Il gulasch: Originally from Hungarian cuisine, it has become a typical dish in many regions of Central Europe, each with its own variation. Goulash is prepared with beef or veal, onions, carrots, celery, and spices. It is traditionally served with bread or potatoes.

Cultural Traditions

The Christkindlmarkt, the Christmas markets, are among the most characteristic attractions of this time of year and attract tourists from around the world. They are meticulously curated, offering handmade products impossible to find elsewhere, as well as sweets and gastronomic specialties from Val Pusteria. In 2023, in Renon, hoteliers and local associations have decided to create a truly special Christmas Market: it will be called Trenatale, and instead of the usual wooden stalls, it will feature the old Renon trains stopping at Soprabolzano and Collalbo. Within these truly unique locations, typical products will be offered, and you can enjoy hot punch and mulled wine with friends or family.

On Christmas Day, in the streets of the small villages scattered throughout the valley, the Krapfenbetteln takes place: children, dressed in traditional Tyrolean costumes, go from house to house asking for sweets and money in exchange for songs and poems. A Christmas version of Halloween!

Finally, there is a very different tradition for children in Val Pusteria and the surrounding areas: while in most parts of the world, Santa Claus arrives with a sleigh full of gifts, in South Tyrol, it is the Baby Jesus who takes care of delivering presents to those who have been good. He discovers what they need by reading the little letters that children leave for him on their home balconies.

The Christmas season, in Val Pusteria as in every part of the world, is always something magical!