The vast cultural difference between the UK and Italy – with profound cost for our national wellbeing – is laid bare in a special Christmas research project by ASK Italian.

Despite 59% of Britons believing that family time is the most important thing about Christmas, research undertaken by the national Italian restaurant company has discovered that 30% admit to not sharing their Christmas dinner with their family, compared to just 1 in 10 Italians (12%). 15% of Brits said they didn’t get family together for any major holiday last year, compared to just 3% of Italians.

Our capital cities show an even starker contrast, with two-thirds of Londoners saying they don’t eat Christmas dinner with their loved ones, while in Rome, 92% of residents eat and celebrate with family.

7 million Brits (11%) even go as far as to confess to having eaten a ready meal on Christmas Day – and this rises to a staggering 16 per cent among the male population.

Scientific studies have regularly shown that the habit of families eating together has myriad of social benefits such as improved family communication; a 2008 study even demonstrated that regular family dinners led to lower stress levels at work. Considering their habit of regular family dinners, it should come as no surprise that Italians live two years longer than Brits on average.

With both Britons and Italians agreeing that eating together is a great way to build relationships (82% Brits vs 90% Italians), it appears that the nation instinctively understands these social benefits. Yet just 1 in 3 Brits regularly uses meal times to catch up with friends and family, compared to 88% of Italians. A tragic one in five Britons eats alone every day, with 22% saying they dine solo at least seven times a week. Only 8% of Italians say the same, with 29% saying they never eat alone.

The wildly different sense of the importance of food explains why Italians spend 10 minutes more than Britons eating lunch every day, and seven minutes longer at dinner – amounting to a whopping 103 hours, or an extra four-and-a-half days a year spent at mealtimes. Just 3% of Italians say they don’t regularly sit at the table when eating dinner, compared with a third of Brits (31%).

ASK Italian commissioned the study to discover the differences between Brits and Italians food habits to better understand how Italians find more joy in eating with family and friends.

ASK Italian believe that the Brits should learn from the Italians. Both countries claim that eating together is an important way to build relationships but only the Italians put this into practice. This Christmas, ASK Italian hope to inspire guests to take a moment away from the grind of daily life and connect with the people around them this season over a meal – just as generations of Italians do on a daily basis.

As a perfect example of their desire to bring people together with food, ASK Italian has created 3 Christmas menus to suit a range of occasions in the run up to the big day, so that there’s no excuse for friends and families not to get into the Super Festivo spirit together this Christmas.

To celebrate the season, ASK Italian have also partnered with Frangelico, the irresistibly nutty hazelnut liqueur to give 1 lucky person the chance to win a trip to Milan for themselves and 3 others so that they can experience the real Italian way of life. To enter, all guests need to do is take a picture of themselves on Instagram or Twitter in an ASK Italian restaurant using the hashtags #SuperFestivo and #Frangelico. 18+.

With a range of Classico, Festivo and Super Festivo menus available in ASK Italian from now until the New Year, food lovers across Britain are encouraged to have a Super Festivo time this Christmas by booking their table now at Ask Italian.

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