Festa of the Immacolata

On December 8, a religious observation is also a national holiday that kicks off the Christmas season in Italy. Known as the Immacolata Concezione, the festa has roots that go back to the 8th century, brought to Italy by Byzantine monks. It was observed as a religious day with a Mass and maybe a procession in many places for centuries.

It was Pope Pius IX who put it on the Catholic calendar in 1854 with the release of his Ineffabilis Deus papal bull that declared it a holiday and explained the dogma around it -that the conception and birth of Mary as being without original sin and thus she was chosen and created by God for the task of bearing the Messiah, and therefore she was immacolata (pure). Others say it is about the Virgin Mary becoming pregnant with Jesus by miraculous means. Whatever the thought or dogma, the festival is nationally celebrated as the day that families gather to trim the trees, put up the presepe (nativity creche) and of course, eat! (This is Italy ;) the iconography normally has Mary standing on the globe with cherubs beneath or surrounding her, and often with a halo of stars around her head (though not always).

Towns in some regions, like Campania, Puglia and Basilicata, may light bonfires and prepare pettole (or frittelle) -fried dough covered in honey. It is also often the day of the tree-lighting ceremonies or when public holiday lights are officially turned on with fanfare.

Antique Markets in Tuscany
Creative shopping, understated purchases and second-hand markets have nowadays become a luxury yen, but in the fifties they did not exist yet, because the reconstruction after two world wars made any piece of furniture or even simple ornaments strictly necessary.
Economical Eats
Staying in one of our villas provides you with a kitchen, saving you money on dining expenses.
Ferragosto - Or Why Italy Closes in August
Have you ever wondered why August is the "ghost month" in Italy?
Music Festivals in Italy
All over Italy, especially in the summer months, the piazzas and parks are alive with the sound of music.
Pasquetta - Easter Monday
The tradition of Pasquetta is a closely-held one, maintained with almost religious fervor though it is a civil holiday.
Street Fairs and Festas
High arbors of elaborate lights illuminate the streets, folk or rock music fills the air, delicious aromas waft temptingly, while the cheerful chatter of voices rises.
The Legend of La Befana
Ever wonder about the witch-like woman with a broomstick that you see in Christmas markets around Italy?
Zeppole di San Giuseppe
Saint Joseph's Day is March 19, which is also Father's Day in Italy.

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