Thinking of traveling to Italy in December or January? What holidays occur that should you keep in mind when planning your trip?
There are a number of holidays during the two month holiday period to consider when booking your year-end travel to Italy.
Here are nine dates to keep in mind:
- December 6: The Feast of San Nicola (St. Nicholas). While celebrations vary north to south, children may write letters to San Nicola on December 5th and be rewarded with a present or sweet treats on the morning of the 6th.
- December 8: The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is an annual public holiday in Italy to honor Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus. Many Italians will attend a church mass in celebration and government offices, post offices, banks, and schools are closed because of the public holiday.
- December 13: The Feast of Santa Lucia is celebrated with fairs, special foods, and even parades in many Italian towns, particularly in Sicily and Calabria.
- December 24: Christmas Eve is celebrated with the Feast of the Seven Fishes, also known as The Vigil. The tradition of only eating seafood dishes dates back to the Roman Catholic tradition of abstaining from meat dishes on the eve of holy days. Some Catholics choose to celebrate with nine, 11, or 13 different seafood dishes.
- December 25: Christmas Day is celebrated by attending Mass and then sharing a massive multi-course meal with family and friends.
- December 26: The Feast of Saint Stephen is another public holiday in Italy, which means closure of government offices, banks, schools, and post offices. It commemorates the martyr of Jerusalem and is celebrated by holding festivals and visiting Nativity scenes in churches.
- December 31: Feast Day of Saint Sylvester honors the saint on the day of his death. Saint Sylvester was one of the early popes of the Roman Catholic Church. The traditional New Year’s Eve meal varies across Italy but the symbolism of abundance is the same.
8. January 1: New Year’s Day is often celebrated by an exchange of sweet treats to ensure a sweet new year. Ancient Romans exchanged jars of figs and dates in honey.
9. January 6: The Feast of the Epiphany, another bank holiday in Italy, celebrates the arrival of the three Wise Men (the Magi), who brought gifts to the baby Jesus. The night preceding the Epiphany is the twelfth night of Christmas and in some regions, Italian children will set out stockings for the Befana, the friendly witch, to bring sweets to those who have been good.
Many Italian cities and towns hold their own festivals during the year, so check the locality’s website when planning your itinerary. Buon Viaggio!