What could be sweeter when, as Christmas holidays approached in Cattolica Eraclea, you felt enveloped in an air that smelled of Cubbata? (almond biscuit dessert).
But it wasn't the only dessert. In fact, in all the houses there was the custom of making cookies for the holidays and many kitchens were on the move from morning to evening. The old recipe books were opened to consult the traditions and to make the famous shortcrust pastry buccellati stuffed with dried ground figs or zucchini jam or chopped almonds.
Nobody could afford to get the ingredients wrong. It would have been a disaster!
It was almost a ritual. Families linked by kinship gathered and baked all kinds of biscuits. For them, for friends and to offer to those who went to their homes, to wish their best wishes.
Christmas was always special. On the night of the twenty-fourth of December, the pastoral care took place at midnight mass, prepared with great care to create special emotions.
Slowly, accompanied by the sound of bagpipes, men dressed as shepherds with lambs on their shoulders entered the church in a row. They were followed by hunters with rifles on their shoulders, where game was hanging, women in Sicilian costumes with baskets of fragrant oranges, with cheeses and steaming ricotta, with homemade breads and with small knitted woollen garments.
At the song of the 'Glory to God' the awning that covered the large nativity scene of the main altar came down and a crowd of children dressed as little angels, with wire wings covered with veils, surrounded the Child singing.
The small town was filled with life during the Christmas holidays, the streets were full of young people returning home for the holidays. Those who lived away for work would return to celebrate with their families, and maybe even some guests came to be with their closest friends.
On Christmas day and other solemn holidays, it was customary to show off new clothes and shoes for the first time, for those who could afford it, to attract the eyes of some young people.
In that period, in fact, often new couples were born during the stroll in the square. The walk consisted of strolling the length of the square, going back and retracing it again many times, until one got tired, which was to be expected, given the inconvenience of the new shoes and the first high heels of the young girls.
Sulle tavole di Cattolica non manca mai il buon croccante di mandorle detto cubbata. Sono mandorle tostate e passate nello zucchero
On the tables of Cattolica there is never a lack of good crunchy almond biscuits called cubbata. They are toasted almonds and dipped in caramelized sugar to bind them together with dried fruit and scented with citrus peel.
We had to peel the walnuts taking care to keep the shells that would be used to feed the embers of the warmers scattered around the rooms.
All guests were generally offered cubbata, oranges and biscuits with fig jam, accompanied by juices and rosolio liquer.
In homes, between the smell of toasted almonds, that of caramelized sugar to bind the crunchy bits and that of burnt citrus peels, you could feel a real scent of home, of family. It was really good!