Italy Cancels Midnight Mass at Christmas

Italy bans midnight mass at Christmas — and its bishops are OK with it.

A Christmas Eve mass in Rome, Italy.
Photo: Stefano Montesi/Corbis via Getty

Christmas is set to look different in Italy this year.

Italians won’t be able to attend traditional midnight mass services on Christmas Eve or travel freely across regions to celebrate, according to the latest government regulations aimed at stemming a sharp resurgence in coronavirus cases around the country.

Italy has led Europe in COVID-19 fatalities in recent weeks, reporting a record high of 993 deaths in a single day on Thursday, Reuters reports. Officials there are particularly worried about the effect holiday gatherings could have on those figures.

As such, Italian officials are requiring Christmas Eve services to end around 8:30 p.m. local time, so residents can make it home in time for the 10 p.m. curfew, Reuters reports. Italian bishops are supportive of the plan, according to Catholic News Service.

Officials are also discouraging Italians to accept invitations to celebrate or share meals with family and friends as they usually might. This comes as other European countries, including France and Germany, are also restricting movement within their borders.

Germany has gone as far as shutting down its world-famous Christmas markets.

The Italian government reinstituted lockdowns in November and plans to limit travel between regions from Dec. 20. Italian ski resorts are scheduled to remain closed through the holidays, Reuters reports.

Italy has reported more than 1.6 million COVID-19 cases and nearly 58,000 fatalities since February, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The country reported more than 30,000 new cases on several days in November, far higher than the volume it was reporting in the spring, when it was among the first nations in the world to shut down due to COVID-19.

Meena Thiruvengadam is a Travel + Leisure contributor who has visited 50 countries on six continents and 47 U.S. states. She loves historic plaques, wandering new streets, and walking on beaches. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

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