A blanket of volcanic ash also covered nearby villages, which ground planes to a halt at Catania airport temporarily.
By midday on December 24, about 130 tremors had been recorded, with a magnitude-4.0 even being detected, the National Institute for Geophysics and Volcanology said.
Mount Etna marked Christmas celebrations with a spike in seismic activity, causing a new fracture to open up at the base of a southeast crater at around 11 am Monday morning.
Italy's National Institute for Geophysics and Volcanology said that around 130 earthquakes have been rocking the volcano since 08:00 GMT.
It was the "first lateral eruption for more than ten years, but it does not seem to be unsafe", said Behncke.
Catania airport on Sicily's eastern coast has closed as a result of the eruption, as ash can impact plane engines and even lead to them stalling or failing in some cases, the BBC reports.
Hikers at higher elevations were brought down to 6,230 feet for safety concerns.
Etna frequently bursts into action - but it's last major eruption was in 1992.
Etna is one of three active volcanoes in Italy and has been particularly active since July.
Etna on the Italian island of Sicily began erupting on 24 Dec at 8.50 (9.50 Kiev).
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