Italy, land of saints, poets and sailors..that's the reason for such a large number of celebrations! Every city, town and village has a public holiday for the commemoration of its patron Saint, among which the most important are San Marco on April the 25th in Venice, San Giovanni Battista on June the 24th in Florence, Genoa and Turin, Santi Pietro e Paolo on June the 29th in Rome, San Gennaro on September the 19th in Naples, San Petronio on October the 4th in Bologna and Sant'Ambrogio on December the 7th in Milan.
The calendar is a fundamental aspect to take in consideration, not only for enjoying Italian festivities, but even because museums, stores, shops, businesses (including our service providers) are usually closed. The following list includes the non-working national public holidays..on these days, knock on the door or call in advance!
January the 1st:
The Italian "Capodanno". The celebrations include music, a lot of food, fireworks and firecrackers to signal the New Year has come. In the past the Italian New Year tradition included defenestrating old pots, pieces of furniture and clothes to represent a break with the past. As well as wearing red clothes and eating zampone sausage and lentils, for good luck!
January the 6th:
The Epiphany, the last day of Christmas time, Epiphany that carries away all festivities. The symbol of this festivity is the Italian "Befana", an old, not at all attractive witch that brings sweets to children. It is the day before the school resumption and this could help!
Easter (Pasqua) falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon of Spring, it can therefore be between March the 22th and April the 25th. Easter Monday, the Italian "Pasquetta", is a non-working day. People usually enjoy this holiday to stay with friends, having fun with a picnic or a barbeque, as the Italian saying goes: "Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi" that means that you can spend Christmas with the family and Easter where you choose!
April the 25th:
The Memorial Day for freedom fighters who died defeating the Nazi-Facism regime. This festivity is called Liberation Day, commemorated by the showing of the Italian "tricolore" flag, by parades, festivals, shows and folk music, with the set-piece song "Bella Ciao", nowadays used worldwide as a hymn of freedom and resistance!
May the 1st:
The Labor Day. Originally this was the date for workers and labor unions to demonstrate by parades and political meetings. Nowadays people enjoy this day with concerts, parties, festivals, picnics and barbeques, an occasion to stay with family or friends and relax..away from their workplaces!
June the 2th:
The Italian "Festa della Repubblica" celebrates the day on which on 1946 Italians, by a referendum, chose a republic government at the expense of the monarchy. It can be compared to Independence Day of the United States and in Rome a solemn military parade is organised. Patriotism is high on this day but people seem to be more interested in, needless to say,.. parties, festivals, picnics and barbeques!
August the 15th:
The Assumption Day. This festivity has a religious nature, it represents the assumption of the Virgin Mary into Heaven. Many celebrations are organised in almost every city and town, with luminous processions through the streets at evening and fireworks during the night. This day is also called "Ferragosto", due to the ancient Roman tradition which celebrated a break from the exhausting agricultural labor. Traditionally Italians go to the beach on this day, and if you are going to do it too..watch out for water ballons and buckets of ice water!
November the 1st:
All Saint’s Day, the Italian "Ognissanti". This festivity celebrates the Saints, especially those that don’t have their own day on the Catholic calendar. In Italy Halloween has not been widely celebrated but its popularity has increased in recent years, targeting the new generations, children and teenagers. However “Trick and treat” through the streets is not a popular tradition and pumpkins..are more for eating! Have you ever tried ravioli with pumpkin filling?
December the 8th:
The Immaculate Conception of Mary. It is often confused with the Virgin Birth of Jesus, but actually it celebrates the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This day represents the first day of the Christmas period, when trees are decorated and lights start to blink.
December the 25th:
The Italian "Natale", the best occasion to spend with family in a joyful atmosphere. The main part of the celebration is represented by a substantial lunch on the Christmas day and for some families on the day before by a large dinner that lasts till midnight..you can imagine how large it is!
December the 26th:
The day of Saint Stephen, the Italian Santo Stefano. It is a good occasion for staying with friends or family, having a walk and visiting the numerous nativity scenes or for enjoying with an excursion, doing some phisical activity. Usually this day represents a day for recovering from the huge meals of the previous day!