Holidays in Italy – why and how they are celebrated

Italy has several public and national holidays throughout the year, each with its own unique traditions and significance. Here’s a list of some of the most important Italian holidays and a brief overview of how they are celebrated:

January 6th – Epifania (Epiphany)

This holiday marks the visit of the Three Wise Men to the baby Jesus. In many parts of Italy, especially in the south, children receive gifts and sweets from La Befana, a kind witch-like figure who delivers presents on this day.

March or April – Pasqua (Easter)

Easter is a significant religious holiday in Italy though Good Friday is not a holiday. The celebrations often include church services, processions, and elaborate feasts featuring lamb and other traditional dishes. Pasquetta is the Monday following Easter Sunday is is taken very seriously – this is when most things will be closed.

April 25th – Liberazione (Liberation Day)

This day commemorates the liberation of Italy from World War II. People participate in parades, concerts, and various cultural events celebrating freedom and democracy.

May 1st – Festa dei Lavoratori (Labor Day)

Similar to International Workers’ Day, Italians take the day off to celebrate workers’ rights and achievements. You may find parades, rallies, and concerts.

August 15th – Ferragosto

This mid-summer holiday is a time for many Italians to take vacations, coastal towns are flocked to and tyhe party season is in full swing.

June 2nd – Festa della Repubblica (Republic Day)

Italy’s national day commemorates the founding of the Italian Republic in 1946. There are military parades and patriotic events in various cities. This is date when it feels like Summer is beginning; many towns have craft fairs and events.

August 15th – Assunzione (Assumption of Mary)

This is a religious holiday celebrating the Virgin Mary’s ascent to heaven. Many Italians attend church services on this day, and some towns hold processions. Many workers take two weeks leave around this holiday, some take three.

November 1st – Ognissanti (All Saints’ Day)

Italians visit cemeteries to honor their deceased loved ones, bringing flowers and lighting candles at graves. It’s a day for remembrance and reflection.

December 8th – Immacolata (Immaculate Conception)

This religious holiday is celebrated by visiting villages to see their light and crib displays and families gather to prepare foods to share over the season. In the countryside, you might find celebrations with a bonfire too. Check out our Events & Workshops pages to find out about our event!

December 24th and 25th – Natale (Christmas)

Christmas is a significant holiday in Italy. Families come together for a big meal, exchange gifts, and attend midnight Mass on December 24th. Nativity scenes, known as “presepi,” are a popular tradition and it is customary to visit these in the village.

Capodanno (New Year’s Eve) – December 31st

Italians celebrate the end of the year with parties, fireworks, and festive dinners. It’s also common to wear red underwear for good luck.

 

Some regional variations and additional local holidays may exist in different parts of Italy.

Monique Chambers
Monique Chambers

A magazine editor by trade, Monique's passion is to promote beautifully made and upcycled things and the artisans that create them. Free time is her biggest indulgence, when she can tinker in her craft room or the kitchen, or be selfish with a book, the sofa and good glass of wine (of course, wearing something fabulous and with freshly coiffed hair!)