Planning to visit Italy in 2019? Get the most out of your experience! Learn here about the most important holidays in Italy - fast and easy with ItalianPod101!
|January 6, 2019||Epiphany|
|January 7, 2019||Flag Day|
|January 27, 2019||International Holocaust Remembrance Day|
|March 5, 2019||Carnival/Mardi Gras|
|March 8, 2019||International Women’s Day|
|March 19, 2019||Father’s Day|
|April 14, 2019||Palm Sunday|
|April 22, 2019||Easter Monday|
|April 25, 2019||Liberation Day|
|May 1, 2019||May Day|
Epiphany, like Christmas, is a Christian religious festival, which celebrates the visit made by the Magi—the Three Great Kings of the East—to Christ twelve days after his birth. According to an Italian belief, on the night between January 5 and 6, a woman called Befana, who’s ugly and old and rides on a broomstick, goes into every home to fill the socks of good children with candies and sweets. On this day, after opening the socks filled with sweets, Italians get together with their families to enjoy lunch together.
Flag Day celebrates the creation of the Italian Flag (Tricolore) on January 7 in 1797 in the city of Reggio nell’Emilia. It’s not a bank holiday, but special events might be held in some cities. A museum in Reggio nell’Emilia is dedicated to the Italian Flag because it’s the city where the flag was born. You can visit it all year around.
On January 27, Italy and many other countries celebrate the Day of Remembrance (Giorno della Memoria) to commemorate the victims of Nazism and those who put their lives at risk to protect the persecuted. January 27 was chosen as the symbolic date of the end of the Holocaust, because this is the day that, in 1945, the Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated by the Russian army. The discovery of the Auschwitz camp was the first revelation to the world of the full horror of the Nazi genocide. On this day, special events are organized to remember those who lost their lives, especially in the Italian cities that were host to Nazi persecution, such as Rome, or places that are still home to Jewish communities.
Carnival is linked to the Christian religion and is celebrated before the long fasting period of Lent. During Carnival, you’re allowed to eat as much as you want, and, so long as you’re wearing a mask, you’re allowed to break any number of rules. This is where the custom of the masquerade originates—so those who break the rules can’t be recognized.
Even though Carnival takes place in winter, there are many events that are held outdoors. Italians, both adults and children, are very fond of attending the parades of allegorical wagons, which are huge papier-mâché floats taking the form of traditional masked men or ironic depictions of famous public figures.
This festival was first celebrated in 1909 in the United States; in Italy, it has only been celebrated since 1922. However, it was only after the end of World War II that this day became an important holiday. The day calls for celebration due to the fact that after the war, women could vote and also have a political career for the first time in the history of Italy.
As you know, Italians are very fond of sweets, and so naturally there’s a typical dessert dedicated to celebrating Women’s Day. It’s called the Mimosa cake (torta mimosa). This cake is so named because it‘s yellow in color and it seems to be covered with mimosa flowers.
In Italy, just as there’s a day for mothers, there’s a day for fathers—called Father’s Day, of course. Since Italy is a country with Catholic traditions, this festival corresponds with the day of St. Joseph, the father of Jesus, and is observed on March 19. Like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day was established in Italy just after World War II, following the example of the United States. In Italy, however, the festival existed long before as the feast of St. Joseph, and was especially celebrated in the places where St. Joseph was commemorated as the patron saint.
The olive tree is usually distributed among churches and churchgoers on Palm Sunday, a week before Easter, as a symbol of peace.
The day after Easter is called Easter Monday, or Little Easter, and it’s also a national holiday. For all Italians, Easter Monday is an excellent opportunity to leave their homes and go out for a picnic in the countryside or visit some famous cultural sites.
Like in many European countries, the day marking the end of World War II is a public holiday in Italy. This day is observed in Italy on April 25, and is called Liberation Day. On this day, Italy was liberated from twenty years of fascist dictatorship and from the German occupation. Like many other countries in the world, this war had a dramatic effect on Italy because it was fought on the streets of Italian cities everywhere. Each year, on April 25, many demonstrations are held to commemorate the dead—those who died for the independence of Italy.
On May 1 each year, Italians celebrate Calendimaggio which is a feast held to rejoice in the coming of spring. Oftentimes, Maggi are present at these feasts, adorned with local flowers symbolizing life, and they sing verses of life and love in exchange for gifts.
On May 9, Italians celebrate Europe Day. This day commemorates the Schuman Declaration which helped to unite the Germans and the French through their common steel and coal industries in 1950. In order to celebrate this peace, they raise Europe’s Flag.
After elections were held on June 2, 1946, after World War II, the Italians decided to abolish the monarchy and became a republic. Today June 2 is known as Republic Day.
June 2, like April 25, is celebrated with a ceremony in Rome at the Altar of the Fatherland, and is attended by the President of Italy. With this festival, people also remember the so-called “Italian economic miracle,” which is the recovery of Italy’s economy after the five long years of World War II.
This is not a bank holiday, but Catholic people might celebrate it in churches.
The Assumption of Mary is a Catholic holiday, but its origins are Roman, as suggested by the name Ferragosto. In Latin this means “resting of Augustus” and signifies a feast that was held by the Emperor Augustus. On this day, wherever they are, Italians like to meet their friends to celebrate the summer and go outdoors to eat together, especially by organizing picnics where they barbecue tons of meat and vegetables and consume large amounts of watermelon.
On the first of November, Italian people celebrate all the saints and martyrs of paradise by visiting church and offering prayers. All Saints’ Day and Halloween actually have the same origin: they were both born from an ancient Celtic festival. In both cases, it’s the time when the living world comes in contact with the world of the dead.
The Feast of All Saints (Ognissanti), which falls on November 1, is also connected with All Souls’ Day, observed on November 2, though this festival isn’t a public holiday. It’s still a very popular occasion and Italians take the day to remember the dead. In the past, it was believed that the dead would return to Earth to be among the living, and that’s why it was necessary to honor and remember them.
On November 4 each year, Italians celebrate National Unity Day in remembrance of their victory in the first World War in 1918, when Austria-Hungary surrendered. In commemoration, a change of guards occurs at Quirinal Palace, and there are demonstrations and showings from the army, as well as concerts.
December 8 is officially dedicated to the Madonna, and this is the day on which Italy, like other Catholic countries, celebrates the Immaculate Conception. The Immaculate Conception (Immacolata Concezione) is celebrated to reiterate the fact that Mary is the only human being devoid of Original Sin, that is, the first sin which Adam and Eve committed in the Garden of Eden. It’s for this reason that in Italy this festival is related to the ideas of abstinence and simplicity, typical of the ancient world of the Italian peasants. December 8 also marks the beginning of the Christmas period; in fact, most families take the day as an opportunity to set up the Christmas tree and the nativity scene. Moreover, it’s the day that all the Christmas markets open.
Saint Stephen’s Day is held in remembrance of the biblical Saint Stephen, who’s best known as the first Christian to be martyred for his faith. On December 26 each year, this public holiday is celebrated with a feast.
You may ask why it is advantageous to know Italian holidays. There are a number of good reasons!
If you’re keen to learn Italian on your own, there are a number of ways to do this. Why not choose holidays as a theme? You can start by learning about the Italian culture, so find a video or TV program about holidays in Italy. Better still - find a video or program about holidays in Italian, and watch it a few times! That way your ear will get used to the spoken language. You could also watch Italian movies without subtitles, as this too will train your ear to what correct Italian sounds like.
If you’re more advanced in Italian, you can practice your writing skills by writing a letter to your Italian friend about the holidays video. Or write a short review of the video, and post it on social media! Imagine how impressed your friends will be!
Practice your Italian pronunciation, and record yourself talking about your holiday in Italy. Pronouncing words correctly in any language is very important, or you may find yourself saying things you don’t mean!
If you’re an absolute beginner, it would be best to start with a book, a CD series, free PDF cheat sheets and preferably your Italian friend who can help you. Or, you can start with ItalianPod101, for free!
Holidays in Italy can also be the perfect opportunity to practice your Italian! For the best experience, make sure to master at least Level 1 of your Italian lessons here on ItalianPod101 before you go on holiday to Italy. Then don’t be shy! Use it with every native speaker you encounter in every situation. Practicing continuously to speak a language is one of the most important habits if you want to become fluent. Or, if you’re a new subscriber to ItalianPod101 in a hurry to get to Italy, study Absolute Beginner Italian for Every Day to help you get by as a traveller - you will be surprised how far a little Italian can go!
ItalianPod101 is uniquely geared to help you master relevant, everyday vocabulary and phrases, pronounced correctly and in the right context - this will set you on the right track. Our courses are perfectly designed to help you in fun ways!
But do have a holiday first. Ideally you will enjoy a different culture with a visit, and enrich your life in ways you cannot imagine. Don’t wait till 2020 to learn Italian through ItalianPod101 though - it will open a whole new world for you!
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