Gian Carlo wrote: "Here is a Christmas carol that's very famous in Lombardy (I'm sure, there are other versions from other regions of Italy). In Lombardy there are different versions; below is the version most sung here where I live, between Milan and Bergamo.

'Piva' and 'baghet' indicates both a sort of bagpipe. When I was a child, a band had formed with a lot of 'birlifù' ('birlifù' is a sort of panflute) of different sizes, one 'piva', one fife, and one bass drum (called 'tamburù', i.e. big drum). They rehearsed near my home and I often went and listen to those wonderful Christmas carols.

This song is so famous that Christmas carols are also called "pive" in Lombardy."

Piva piva l'oli d'uliva - Italian Children's Songs - Italy - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World  - Intro Image

Notes

*Gian Carlo wrote, "I don't know if "piva piva" at the beginning of some verses has to be translated, since it seems to have only a 'musical' purpose. Also 'oli d'uliva' (olive oil) and 'oli d'ulà' ('ulà oil' – 'ulà' is a non-existent word) have only a musical purpose."

**Gian Carlo wrote, "The second verse in this version sounds like nonsense, since I don't know what 'gnaca' could mean. 'Taca' is a verb that in northern dialects can have different meanings, i.e.: to hang up something, to paste something on a wall, to begin, to catch to a bottom of a pan (with reference to a food), to be sticky."

Regarding "swaddling bands of cloth" - this refers to a cloth tied together with thinner strips of cloth to swaddle the baby Jesus. It's referred to in the Bible.

Piva piva l'oli d'uliva - Italian Children's Songs - Italy - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World 1
Piva piva l'oli d'uliva - Italian Children's Songs - Italy - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World 2

Comments

Gian Carlo sent us the photos on this page with this note: "Enclosed you can find some photos about Santa Lucia celebration here in Lombardy. Now I can also show you the 'baghèt' (that I cited when I sent the Piva Piva carol): a little bagpipe, as you can see. I took all photos in Arzago d'Adda (Lombardy, about 30 km from Bergamo and 30 km from Milan)."

Watch
Gian Carlo wrote, "You can listen to a version very similar to the above version here." In the video, they sing verses 1, 3, and 4, and then the 1st two lines of the song and then the last two lines of the song above.
Please let us know if you think this video has been taken down by YouTube.
Thanks!

Thanks and Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Gian Carlo Macchi for contributing and translating this song, for the photos and for such interesting commentary.

Grazie mille!

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