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Italian celebrations

in the four seasons

January 1

New Year

World Day of
January 6

Celebrated on the sixth of January,

it originally began as a celebration
of the birth of Jesus, and is still
celebrated as that in the Eastern
Orthodox Church. However, when
the Catholic Church decided to
celebrate Christmas on December
25th  the meaning of the holiday
changed. Greek for
"miracle,"Epiphany has evolved
Epiphany into a celebration of the end of the
Christmas season, the literal
Twelfth Day of Christmas. 
The Befana is represented as an ancient
Santa Claus-like figure whose name means
"giver of gifts" and appears as a friendly old
witch who rides through the air on a
broomstick, dropping through chimneys to fill
stockings up with toys and candy.
The celebration dell'Epifania is accompanied
by different symbols and traditions of very
ancient derivation (solar cults) mixed up
contamination as the most recent:
* The Comet Star who leads the Magi
(Eastern tradition contaminated by
* The ignition of fireworks wishes (solar
* Exchange of gifts;
* Tour;
* The tradition of gifts to children (in

Saint Valentine:
patron saint of

In our tradition the period from January 17 until the Tuesday

preceding Ash Wednesday (Shrove Tuesday) is dedicated to the
Carnival. The spirit of this holiday is expressed by an old
proverb "a carnevale ogni scherzo vale" (a carnival every joke
is good), in fact every one forget everyday problems and,
protected by the mask that makes it unrecognizable, is free to
laugh and eat their fill. Carnival has origins in ancient Rome
where there were several celebrations in honor of the gods,
along the streets of the city and that included the use of masks.
Towards the end of the sixteenth century, in Italy born the
"Commedia dell'arte", which used the Italian masks, ie
characters that reappear in every comedy with the same name,
the same costume, the makeup or masks, the same language.
These characters, like Harlequin, Pantalone, Colombina, Dr
Balanzone, Pulcinella became famous throughout Europe.
Disappeared over time from the scene of the theater, the masks
have survived only in festivals and masked carnival.
Today, the typical Italian ancient masks, such as Pulcinella, Arlecchino,
Balanzone, etc.. are linked to caricatures of vices and defects of the
inhabitants of various regions of Italy Each year many are the emergence
of new and imaginative masks along with their ancestors and all together,
like a long time ago, the same goal: to ensure happiness. Today the
carnival is celebrated with events everywhere, masked parades, floats.
The mask performs several functions: vegetative symbol of the forces of
nature, animals or the dead, is to exorcise and mock the form of satire and
hierarchical authority figures. Typical are the manifestations of mere tourist
attractions, like the carnival of Viareggio, where "wagons" playing in
caricature form, the events during the year. Often, the carnival ends with
the trial, sentencing and execution at the stakeof a doll that embodies
Carnival, which are assigned all the blame.
March 19

Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin

Mary . Father’s day

The Christian Easter, as celebrated in Italy,
is preceded by a period of penance. This
space of time, said Lent, the period of forty
days go by Ash (Ash Wednesday is the day
when the priest puts ashes on the heads of
the faithful, in memory of olive blessed
burnt residue) to Saturday Santo (Saturday
before Easter), provides food moderation.
Over the last few days before Easter
Sunday, Italy, as in many Catholic
countries, held various rituals that recall
the Passion of Christ. On this occasion,
take place many folkloristic ceremonies in
which are represented some episodes of
the Passion,are blessed the homes, are
used the paschal lamb, eggs and sweets
in the shape of a dove. ?The use of giving
eggs is linked to the fact that Easter
coincides with the beginning of spring,
which was celebrated with ancient rituals
for fertility and renewal of nature. The egg
symbolizes, in fact, that life is renewed. ?
After the long preparation for Lent, the pace
of evocative rites of the Passion is
intensifying, reaching the summit on Friday.
With Semana Santa community of the faithful
live a day of mourning Universal, expressed
through various forms of popular
participation. In many Italian regions, at
dawn on Friday, the women go to church and
a bare knees on the floor, read a brief prayer.
Many of the prayers of today are very old,
some dating back to the fifteenth century. In
addition to prayer, are recited copies of the
events that accompanied the death and
resurrection of Christ. This is the most direct
way for people to participate in the pain of
loss. Thus, in the regions of Italy are in place
many performances in which, since the
Middle Ages, it recalls the death of Jesus.
April 25

Anniversary of the
liberation (1945)
Celebration VARIABLE (from 11
May to 11 June).

Pentecost Sunday
May 1

Feast of workers
Celebration mobile (the
second Sunday of May)

Mother's Day
June 2

Feast of the
June 24
The equinoxes and solstices were very
important moments in the lives of farmers and
shepherds. Since old time the change of
direction that the sun makes between 21 and22
June, resuming his race on the horizon on the
24 was hailed as the beginning of a new period
of life. This day, known as summer solstice, is
still remembered and expected, as the first day
of summer, and is associated with magical
feast of St. John the Baptis.The sun at this time
seems to stand always in the same place until
June 24 when rising again to move gradually on
the south of horizon determes the stretch or
shorten of days. Even the old men realize these
changes and celebrated the event with different
The name derives from the Christian religion,
because according to its liturgical calendar is
celebrated St. John the Baptist.

St. John and the summer solstice

In this holiday, according to an ancient belief the sun
(fire) goes with the moon (water): hence the rites and
uses of bonfires and the dew, in the popular tradition.
It is no coincidence that the attributes of S. John are
the fire and water
Over time, there was a mix of ancient traditions, pagan
ritual and Christian, which gave rise to beliefs and
rituals still in use today and found mostly in rural
It is seen as a magical moment and as the period of
collection of plants and herbs for use in operations

Anniversary of the end of World War

The night of St. Lawrence
The night of August 10 is the night of shooting stars
considered according to the collective imagination as
the tears of St. Lawrence. If scientifically the fall of the
stars is attributable to step inside of orbit visual land,
the asteroids in the constellation Perseus ( precisely
those Perseids), culturally rain of stars was developed
in a more poetic. Tonight is, in fact, from old time
dedicated to martyrdom of San Lorenzo, from the third
century buried in Rome, and shooting stars are the
tears paid by the saint during his torture, wandering
eternally in heaven, and descend on earth only the day
when Lorenzo died. On this night, in fact, we believe
we can happen the wishes of all those who remember
the pain of San Lorenzo, and every shooting star
pronounced the words "Star, my beautiful star, I wish
you…", and expects the desired event during the year.
In popular tradition, the stars of August 10 are also
called fires of San Lorenzo, because remember the
sparks coming from grate with fire on which the martyr
was killed, then fly up into the sky


Recruitment of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Ferragosto (from the Latin Feriae Augusti = rest of August), is a very special
day. Looking on the calendar says "Assumption of the Virgin Mary in
heaven" and in fact the church celebrates the transfer "recruitment" of Mary
Virgin in Paradise. In many places in Italy held processions in honour of this
In fact, August was an ancient festival that took place on August 15 to
celebrate the end of the main farm work At the same time, workers give
their wishes to owners getting a tip in exchange.
Such use is always held in Rome, so that during the renaissance was made
compulsory by papal decrees.
The anniversary also connects with "Consualia," the period of celebration
and relaxation in ancient Rome is devoted to the god Conso, protector of
In the early imperial age (18 c) leave these were known as "Augustali", in
honor of Octavian Augustus, from which derives the current designation of
During the festivities, throughout the empire organized horse races and
draught animals (horses, donkeys and mules) were exempt from work and
embellished with flowers.
The Ferragosto is for the Italians a day of rest and evasion. Many enjoy this
day to go to sea, to visit cultural sites, to organize trips in the mountains or
simply seek refreshment from the summer heat.
October 4

St Francis of Assisi patron of Italy


All Saint day is

celebrated in honor
of all the Catholic
Saints and Martyrs

All Saints
November 2
The commemoration of deceases is
the holidays that the Catholic Church
dedicated to the the dead. It is a time
to remember the deceases, a day of
religious significance, which fuse with
ancient rites and folk beliefs. A pattern
recurs in the folk traditions of the feast
of the dead is the belief that in this day
missing loved ones come back to visit
us on earth. For this reason, the rites
of commemoration took throughout
Italy meanings and purposes like:
welcome, comfort, soothe the souls of
dead ancestors.
commemoration of the dead

Feast of the armed forces. Celebration in honor of

the fallen
November 11

St. Martin of Tours patron members of

the Infantry

It is a Holy Day of
Obligation. The
faithful are required to
attend Mass, where
they commemorate
when Mary was
Solemnity of the graced by God to lead
Immaculate Conception a life completely free
of sin
December 25

December 26

It is part of the Twelve Days

of Christmas, and marks the
day of St. Stephen, the first
martyr for the newborn king.

Feast of St.

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