Your in-progress dictionary of the Florentine dialect

Alexandra Lawrence, Francesco Stefanelli
December 12, 2013

Ceppo:  In Italian, a ceppo is a tree stump or a log, but in Florence it was once something much more meaningful. Of ancient origin, the tradition was to take a thick trunk of wood that had been cut down shortly before the holiday and burn it in the fireplace on Christmas night. The whole family would gather around and the children would hit the burning embers with iron pokers, sending sparks up into the air, symbolizing the family’s hopes and wishes. As a good omen for the coming year, the ceppo was supposed to burn all Christmas night and all day on the Feast of St. Stephen; later, the ashes were spread in the fields as an offering for an abundant harvest. Over time, the ceppo was no longer burned but hollowed out and adorned with fruit and other decorations, including small gifts.

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