In Milanese dialect “O Bej! O Bej!” literally means” Oh Belli! Oh Belli!” or, “Oh how beautiful! Oh how beautiful!” The name originates from the exclamations made by the children when they saw the gifts that they had received from Pope Pius IV, Gianetto Castiglioni in 1510. In those days, the items on display were mostly gastronomic in nature. The most popular being the strands of roasted chestnuts, mustard, “castagnaccio” which is similar to a chestnut cake, and paper dolls.
Today, this annual Christmas market is an opportunity for locals, Europeans, and artisans from other countries around the world to show their craftsmanship in a festive environment. In honor of Sant’Ambrogio, the patron saint of Milan, this market is always held during the first week of December because December 7th is Milan’s Patron Saint’s day. This year, the “Fiera degli O Bej! O Bej!” will be held from Monday, December 7th through Thursday, December 10th at the “Fiera di Sant’Ambrogio”. All around Milan’s “fiera” and in and around the Saint’s Basilica and Piazza Sant’Ambrogio, the streets are lined with stalls displaying crafts and fantastic gifts for Christmas. This market is a shopper’s wonderland. Outside you will find local delicacies such as “vin brule”. Once you enter the gates of the “fiera”, you must get a map to find your way from one hall to another. It is very easy to get lost and turned around. Each hall is themed, and ranges from a hall containing only Italian artisans, to one with Italian food and wine, another with Europe artisans, and one hall is for the artisans that come from countries outside Europe.
This fair provides an excellent opportunity to do some Christmas shopping and appreciate the craftsmanship of Italy, Europe and abroad. The market is open from 8:00 am to 7:30 pm daily. Don’t miss one of Milan’s most festive cultural traditions when visiting Milan with kids!
Fiera degli Oh bej, oh bej
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Photo of the O Bej! O Bej! Market by Giorgio MilaniAdd to favorites