Sunday, December 23, 2012

Buon Natale!

It's just cool enough to feel like Christmas in Sicily, where the holiday season runs into January - though this time the Epiphany is on a Sunday so it won't feel like a separate holiday.

The Christmas trees and Nativity scenes are the same as always - well, almost. This year, the city of Palermo spent more than usual on a tree half the size of last year's (shown).

And in a sign of the times - colored by the economic recession - merchants want to begin their sales as early as possible, with a few even before Christmas.

The government is also offering a "Christmas present" to the public. At the end of the month Italians will have new "wealth taxes" to pay, including an annual deduction of 34 euros from each current (checking) account and over a euro for each thousand deposited in savings or investment accounts. Italy's bank fees were already the highest in western Europe.

Merry Christmas!

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