Halloween just passed and now you’re sitting around with a hangover waiting for the next holiday to hit you with some rest, luckily for you today (yeah I’m writing this on the 1st of November) is one of many Italian Holidays and traditions. You’ll most probably have the day off and have time to recuperate from the trauma of last nights Italian celebrations, but hey it’s part of the whole student experience that you’ll never forget when you get back home ( interested in traditional italian festivals?).
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Now I gave you the interpersonal, face-to-face, leveling with your intro and I can go on a rant about how there are so many Italian Holidays and traditions that you’ll have to attend and be a part of, because how can you be in Italy and not have a 5 hour meal to celebrate Labor Day (yeah labor day is BBQ day in Italy) it’s one of many Italian traditions.
So keep in mind that holidays and italian religious traditions in the country are almost like events in Italy, you eat, you drink and you have a good time with friends and family (or just friends if you’re here without family, and that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable).
What are some traditions and holidays celebrated in Italy
Well, I hope you didn’t think that you were going to read that intro and be done with the article….Oh nononooooo. Now comes the meaty part, that fun, and loving list you all have been waiting for. Let’s give you a rundown on how-when-why the main Italian holiday traditions are celebrated. We’re going to start from now rather than the beginning of the year cause well f’it.
Italians Holidays and traditions: the list
Ognissanti (All Saints’ Day) – November 1
The day to commemorate all the saints, I mean Italy is a very Catholic country (not as much as it used to be 30 years ago, but still the cultural relevance is very strong). Keep in mind it’s the Roman Catholic Church soooo, yeah. Anyway on Ognissanti, you start to realize that winter is around the corner, so usually, it’s a good day to relax.
Immacolata Concezione (Immaculate Conception) – December 8
Another very important celebration for the country is the 8th of December, considered to be the day that Mary became pregnant through the holy spirit. Now if you’re in Milan you’ve got double the luck cause you have an extra holiday the day before for the patron saint Sant’Ambrogio.
Natale (Christmas Day) – December 25
Well, really what to say about Christmas you all know about it, but this out of all the Italian holidays and celebrations is one of the most important, that’s why we’re gonna give you an h2
Italian Christmas traditions
They vary a lot from north to south, I mean it really depends on where you are. Most regions prefer to celebrate with family and friends on Christmas Eve, I mean if your part of an Italian-American family you probably do the same, while in the northern regions you must have lunch on the 25th altogether. Meaning you get double the dose of the family in the span of 20 hours and triple the waist size as well. In the various regions, being that the culinary tradition is so diverse, you also don’t have a standard Christmas mean, for example in Emilia-Romagna you’ll have a prevalence of meat dishes, while in Modena (still part of Emilia-Romagna) you find a prevalence of fish dishes. So Christmas time is great to visit again if you’re a massive foodie pick different locations each time you come back
Santo Stefano – December 26
The day after Christmas in Italy is the day off par excellence, more shops are closed this day than on Christmas evening. I mean think about it you’ve been eating for 2 days straight and how the hell are you gonna function properly.
Capodanno (New Year’s Day) – January 1
Another great feast day, you usually spend it in front of a barbecue wishing you haven’t drunk that much the night before. It’s the new year, you deserve some rest.
Epifania (Epiphany) – January 6
Epifania is another Catholic festivity that I’ll be honest has been changed a bit in the sense that it’s more like mini-Christmas. You have the Befana, an old lady that is somewhat like a witch but not mean just really ugly, that flies around Italy bringing stockings full of sweets to good kids, and coal to bad ones. “La Befana vien di notte con le scarpe tutte rotte and something something something else” is the little “filastrocca” for the Epifania.
Pasqua (Easter Sunday)
“Natale con i tuoi e Pasqua con chi vuoi” a little piece of Italian knowledge for you, it means “Christmas with family and easter with friends”, cause this being the second most important religious tradition, it means you have a full day of food waiting for you. Now, keep in mind that Easter in Italy is really dangerous when it comes to food, cause even though I just gave you the Italian phrase, you’ll find yourself eating lunch with family and then meeting friends in the evening.
Pasquetta (Easter Monday)
So, after Pasqua you have Pasquetta, this celebration is literally just meet with friends and have another feast, made out of all the leftovers everybody has. As I said do be careful during special celebrations in Italy, but also enjoy every meal cause they are amazing.
Festa della Liberazione (Liberation Day) – April 25
April 25th is one of Italy’s most important days, and for once it’s not a religious festivity, rather it represents the day Italy was liberated by Nazi occupation. You could call this Italy day, but there also another day that represents this in the country.
Festa del lavoro (Labor Day) – May 1
Nothing like a Labor Day BBQ, and don’t worry it’s the same here in Italy, only the days are different, cause in the US we always have to do things differently. Anyway, The Festa del Lavoro is a great day to get together with friends to have a barbecue, but most importantly you tend to have a Barbecue in beach towns, cause it marks the official countdown to summer.
Festa della Repubblica (Republic Day) – June 2
So, as I mentioned beforehand there are two major Italian festivities that celebrate the country and its foundation. The Festa della Repubblica is one of the most important when you think of the history of the country, after 20 years of Fascist government, Italy became the Republic it is today (full of flaws no doubt), but a new country that started its ascent in the modern world.
Assunzione della Vergine/Ferragosto (Assumption of the Virgin) – August 15
The last holiday on our list is also Italians favorite holiday, cause it’s when most people get a chance to take some time off of work and have a proper summer vacation. You see Ferragosto is a countrywide tradition that obvs implies eating like a madman, but also some great warm sunny weather. Originally a religious festivity today it’s mostly considered just Ferragosto.
List of Patron Saint days per city
Rome – San Pietro e Paolo – June 29
Venice – San Marco – April 25
Florence, Genoa, and Turin – San Giovanni Battista – June 24
Milan – Sant’Ambrogio – December 7
Palermo – Santa Rosalia – July 15
Naples- San Gennaro – September 19
Bari – San Nicola – December 6
Bologna – San Petronio – October 4
Trieste – San Giusto – November 3
Cagliari – San Saturnio – October 30