We celebrate the holidays without knowing why, worrying about buying gifts, organizing trips to get away and preparing feasts for lunches and dinners. Who knows how many of us will taste Cuccia, savor Buccellato, eat a Sfincia for Saint Joseph or delight in some almond dough fruit and still remember why these typical “treats of the Saints” were created and how they sailed through the centuries to get to us. Each preparation is linked to events and rites that sink into our oldest past and tell us about needs, survival and spirituality that it would be better not to forget nowadays.

In Sicily it’s not Christmas without Buccellato, an opulent centerpiece crusted with pistachios and candied fruits, scented o f honey and oriental spices. The name could maybe derive from an ancient musical instrument, the “buccina”. In Sicily this treat represents the ancestral art of sun-dried summer figs and has been enriched by Arabic ingredients over time, showcasing uniqueness in the complexity of its preparation. The figs’ ambrosia carries a sentimental flavor that transcends seasons, as they meticulously dry in the brutal August sun on bamboo spears. Every family has their own way to perpetuate the sacred smells of Sicilian Christmas, from the citrus hints to the dried fruits. Other classic ingredients are nuts and sweet spices and the Marsala flavoured crust is crumbly and malleable. An ancient recipe, with a long preparation that brings together women of all generations, a triumphal and baroque Christmas centerpiece.