Important Holidays in Italy
Public holidays in Italy are important events that bring families closer together. Though some holidays have religious meaning, most hold secular significance. The Interesting Info about Italy important holidays.
December 31st marks a grand celebration with fireworks and feasting on cotechino (boiled pork). Meanwhile, in Italian culture, Carnevale, or Carnivale, provides another festive way to indulge before Lent begins.
La Festa della Repubblica
La Festa della Repubblica is Italy’s National Holiday, similar to July 4th or Bastille Day in France. This celebration commemorates an institutional referendum of 1946 which allowed its population to vote on what type of government they wanted after World War II; most voters chose the Republic as their desired form, forcing Umberto II, Lord Savoy, into exile and beginning a new chapter in Italy’s history.
Public Holiday, this event also marks a day off work and features official and military parades to commemorate one of Italy’s most significant days. It is celebrated globally with pride and gratitude by Italians around the globe.
Rome hosts one of the day’s main events when its citizens parade along Via dei Fori Imperiali, an avenue lined by remnants of ancient Roman Forum ruins on both sides. Here, the President of the nation, along with members of the armed forces and high-ranking officials, lay a wreath at the Tomb of Unknown Soldier at Altare della Patria (Altar of Fatherland), an obelisk that stands proudly atop Piazza Venezia at its core.
At Quirinale Palace (Palazzo del Quirinale), afternoon gardens open for music performances by band ensembles from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Carabinieri. A fireworks display is another must-see event; each city and town can create its breathtaking collection, lighting up the night sky with Italian colors.
La Festa della Liberazione
Italy observes the International Liberation Day or Festa della Liberazione every April 25th as part of their national holiday observances, commemorating all Italians who died during World War Two and especially honoring those partisans who opposed Mussolini’s dictatorial regime and Nazi occupation during that conflict. This public Holiday recognizes all Italians who lost their lives during this conflict – those directly fighting to liberate Italy and those who helped deliver themselves against it during the public Holiday.
Typically, Independence Day is celebrated throughout the country with ceremonies and parades as well as political rallies and visits to monuments commemorating fallen partisan fighters. Flags are proudly flown everywhere.
Most schools and offices will be closed, as are museums and other major attractions that usually open their doors to the general public – you should expect large crowds at attractions in cities like Milan and Rome on this day.
The Frecce Tricolori aerobatic team offers impressive displays from balconies and terraces throughout Italy. Composed of retired members of the Italian Air Force, Frecce Tricolori performs at events each year in honor of those who lost their lives fighting partisan movements during World War II.
On this Holiday, people celebrate by attending outdoor concerts or events held in parks and squares throughout Italy. Museums or other sites closed on other holidays may reopen for business on May Day, making this the perfect opportunity for Italians to use up all their vacation days without going bankrupt during this busy period in Italy. Reservations or tickets should be booked before traveling on this occasion to avoid disappointment!
La Festa della Immaculate Conception
On December 8th, Italians celebrate Mary – whom the Church believes was free from sin at her conception – with an immaculate conception celebration mass and wreath-adorning statues of her around town. A highlight of this day in Rome is when Pope Francis kneels before placing an immaculate Conception wreath on the Holy Mary at Piazza Mignanelli Square.
Santa Claus plays an integral part in Italian Christmas traditions. Also known as ‘Babbo Natale’ or Father Christmas, he travels around with a sack full of goodies on Christmas Eve and Day to visit Italian children with gifts he delivers according to local custom. Children often write letters with their wishes listed for delivery if requested.
On December 13th, Italy honors Santa Lucia or Saint Lucy. This feast day commemorates her contribution in 1582 of providing wheat to Sicily during the severe famine – hence becoming known as a miracle worker! Many families visit cemeteries to leave flowers or lights as tribute to loved ones that have passed. Also, it is an opportunity for sharing traditional desserts like Frutta Martorana (colored marzipan fruits).
New Year’s Eve (La Festa di San Silvestro) is one of the country’s major holidays, allowing friends and family to come together, eat, drink, sing, and dance! Most Italians celebrate New Year’s Eve by watching Il Concerto della Capodanno televised music concert before singing ‘Auld Lang Syne at midnight; festivities then carry over into New Year’s Day, where traditions vary by region and house – keep an eye out for signs that read Chiuso per Ferie (meaning closed for Holiday) to know when shops, restaurants or museums may close.
La Festa della Primo Maggio
La Festa della Primo Maggio (International Workers’ Day or Labor Day), celebrated annually on May 1st, is a critical holiday in Italy and worldwide. Many businesses and schools close for this special celebration.
This Holiday commemorates the achievements of Italy’s labor movement and celebrates all working people’s rights. It provides an opportunity to ponder challenges still faced by workers and consider ways their lives may be improved.
Celebration of this festival started in Europe following a decision of socialist delegates attending the Second International, an organization of trade unions founded in Paris 1889 and introduced into Italy some years later; its implementation was suspended during Fascist rule but resumed after the liberation of Italy.
Italy observes Labor Day on May 1st, also known as La Prima Maggio. Like other nations, Italy follows this public Holiday, and shops close early. Italians gather with family and friends, attending concerts or enjoying outdoor activities during this day of commemoration, sometimes taking part in political rallies and demonstrations for worker’s rights protection.
On this day, Rome hosts an incredible free concert known as Concerto a San Giovanni hosted by Italy’s largest trade unions and sponsored by many different international and Italian artists, from pop to rock to folk to reggae music genres – with famous Italian artists always represented each year! This annual gathering offers an unforgettable way to welcome in spring with family and friends while enjoying great musical entertainment in one afternoon!
Epiphany is an immensely significant holiday in Italy and is commemorated much like Christmas is celebrated here in America. The Epiphany marks the liturgical peak of the Advent-Christmas season as it commemorates the coming of the Magi to visit Jesus at Bethlehem and commemorate his baptism and wedding feast at Cana. Both religiously and nationally, it’s an official public holiday!
Dia de los Reyes is one of Italy’s most beloved celebrations and especially important for children! While in other countries, children get presents from Santa Claus or La Befana (an older lady) on December 5th, Italian children look forward to receiving gifts from Babbo Natale and La Befana herself!
La Befana is an essential figure in Italian folklore and legend and a soot-covered witch who distributes gifts to Italian children on Christmas. According to legend, she first appeared when the Wise Men stopped at her house for directions as they headed toward Bethlehem – she welcomed them but could not join their journey because of cleaning duties and chores she needed to complete first. When hearing of Jesus’s birth, though, she desperately wanted to see Him but unfortunately couldn’t. Since then, she has left toys and sweets for good kids while giving lumps of coal to any miscreants!
People still believe in La Befana today, and she remains essential during Epiphany celebrations. Many households display her statue or puppet within their homes or hang one from their window for display on Epiphany Eve. La Befana also enjoys great popularity within Italian street theater companies such as Il Teatro di Roma.