There are so many beautiful and fun Italian holidays and traditions that can make your time in Italy even more magical. When it comes to Italian national holidays, people get together to celebrate and spend some memorable time with their loved ones. The truth is that regardless of the timing of your travel, you will most probably visit at the time of a national holiday in Italy, as there are holidays almost every month of the year. To help you learn about each public holidays in italy, we created a list of the 20 main national holidays in Italy and collected all the important traditions you should know about.
20 Main Italian National Holidays
What also makes Italian holidays and traditions unique is that some of them are only celebrated in different regions of the country. These are called regional Italy holidays and a good example is the Festa di Marco, also known as The Feast of St Mark, which is celebrated only in Venice. To find out which regional or national holiday in Italy could you enjoy the most, we are going to lead you through the Italian calendar of the main holidays. Now, without further ado, let’s take a quick look at each!
1. January 1st: New Year’s Day
First on our list of the main Italian national holidays is the very first holiday of the year, New Year’s Day. Being the world’s most widely celebrated day, the 1st of January is the day when all Italians get together to say goodbye to the old year and dance into the new.
While the celebration starts the evening before, the major event of the day is the fireworks that happen exactly at midnight. If you choose to attend one holiday among all Italy national holidays and you are ready for a party to remember, make it this one!
Happy Holidays in Italian for New Year’s Day is: Buon Anno
2. January 6: Epiphany – Epifania
The very first month of the year is rich in Italian national holidays. A few days after New Year’s Day, Epifania is a national holiday in Italy that marks the end of the Christmas period and commemorates the presentation of the infant Jesus to the Magi. There are many holiday traditions in Italy, but the ones linked to Epifania are truly unique.
The tradition of La Befana is joyful among kids. According to the 13th-century legend, the Magi met Befana on their way to meet the baby Jesus and asked her to join them. She initially refused, but later changed her mind, however, she was unable to find them. The gifts she bought for Jesus, gave to Italian children she met on the way. Today, Befana is known as an old witch who brings gifts to children before the night of Epiphany.
3. January 7: Tricolor Day – Festa del tricolore
Looking at the main holidays in Italy we must mention Festa del tricolore or Tricolor Day. Celebrating the Italian flag, this day is one of the most important national holidays of Italy. January the 7th is not a public holiday, but that doesn’t stop Italians from celebrating.
Various events are held for this occasion throughout the country, especially in the Emilia Romagna region. On this day, you can see the Italian flag displayed in the windows or balconies of people’s homes. Some major buildings and landmarks are also lighted up in the Italian tricolor, green, white, and red.
4. Easter – Pasqua
What are the main holidays in Italy? Needless to say, there are many religious Italian holidays and traditions. Being the most important date in the Christian calendar, Easter or Pasqua is another main holiday celebrated throughout the entire country.
Easter is a public holiday that is mainly focused on religious services and ceremonies. Thousands of people travel to Rome for Easter as they want to participate in religious services held in the most beautiful churches and cathedrals of the Eternal City. Not to mention seeing and listening to the head of the Catholic Church, the Pope.
Happy Holidays in Italian for Easter is: Buona Pasqua!
5. Easter Monday – Pasquetta
Holiday traditions in Italy usually make people come together and Easter Monday is no exception. The day after Easter Sunday, which is also known as Pasquetta is one of those Italy holidays when people gather with family and friends and enjoy the early days of Spring.
It is also one of the most important Italian national holidays that families spend together. On this day people like to spend some time outside enjoying a barbeque or lunch in the garden. Also, it is a perfect time to enjoy some Easter eggs, either painted or made from delicious Italian chocolate.
6. April 25: The Feast of St Mark – Only in Venice
National holidays of Italy are celebrated with public events all throughout the country, but there are some main holidays in Italy that are specific to a certain region. For instance, the Feast of St Mark is only celebrated in Venice. This day is to observe the anniversary of the death of the apostle Saint Mark in 68 AD.
Saint Mark is known as the author of one of the four Gospels in the New Testament. Venice’s culture is strongly associated with Saint Mark. A Venetian legend says that Saint Mark arrived at a lagoon in Venice, where an angel appeared to him and told him that this place is going to be his resting place. If you visit Venice, explore the city’s two famous sites, St Mark’s Square and the Basilica of St. Mark.
7. April 25: Liberation Day – Festa della Liberazione
If you’re wondering what are the main holidays in Italy during the Spring season, Liberation Day or Festa della Liberazione is definitely one you should know about. This day is an annually celebrated national holiday in Italy and it commemorates the liberation of Italy from Nazifascism.
When it comes to holiday traditions in Italy during Festa della Liberazione, you should get ready for commemoration events throughout the country. A good example is the laying of the laurel wreath in memory of the victims of the war that happens in Rome. Being a public holiday, on the 25th of April people usually take advantage of the good weather and go on a holiday.
8. May 1: Labour Day – Festa del Lavoro
One of the most important Italian national holidays is Labour Day, also known as Festa del Lavoro. The history of Labour Day goes back to the 14th of July of the year 1889 in Paris when the first international congress of socialist parties of Europe dedicated the 1st of May of every year as the Workers Day of International Unity and Security.
Since then Festa del Lavoro is one of the most celebrated Italian national holidays. At this time of the year, more than half a million people attend the biggest event of the day, the annual Concerto del Primo Maggio which is also broadcasted live on television.
9. June 2: Republic Day- Festa della Repubblica
Continuing our collection of the main Italian holidays and traditions, let’s take a look at Festa della Repubblica. Republic Day marks the referendum of 1946, which created the Italian Republic on the 2nd of June the same year. This day is one of the most important ones in the Italian calendar. There are many holidays traditions in Italy linked to this holiday.
There are military parades, and the Italian president lays a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Rome. The biggest highlight however is the tricolor feast done by the Frecce Tricolori, when nine Italian Air Force planes fly over the parade, sending streaks of the Italian tricolor into the sky.
10. June 24: The Feast of St John – Turin, Genoa, Florence
As we have mentioned before, while national holidays of Italy are celebrated country-wide, there are some regional holidays, too.
The Feast of St John is one of the main holidays in Italy, yet it is only celebrated in Turin, Genoa, and Florence. This day is also celebrated on the 24th of June, as the holiday remarks the birth of Sait John the Baptist. In Turin, this day is even more important, as Saint John is the patron saint of the city.
11. June 29: Feast of St Peter and St Paul – Rome
So, what is next in the Italian calendar? While the Feast of St Peter and St Paul is not a national holiday in Italy, it comes with special celebrations. This day is only celebrated in Rome, but in case you happen to be in Rome this time of the year, get ready for a time to remember. June 29 commemorates the martyrdom of the two saints, who are the patron saint of the city.
Also, Saint Peter and Saint Paul are considered the founders of the Church in Rome, and Peter is celebrated as the very first Pope. During the day, make sure to check out the floral display at St Peter’s in Piazza Pio XII. Later in the evening, head to Pincio, over Piazza del Popolo to appreciate the annual fireworks.
12. August 15: Assumption Day – Assunzione (Ferragosto)
So, what are the main holidays in Italy? If you ask Italian, they will surely answer Assunzione or Ferragosto. The reason is that at this time of the year, Italians take advantage of the public holiday and go on vacation.
They either go for a quick getaway or a longer summer vacation, but most Italian schedule their summer break around this day. Those who decide to stay in the country during Ferragosto can enjoy some local festivals and celebrations.
13. September 19: Feast of St Gennaro – Naples
Next on our Italy national holidays collection is the Feast of Saint Gennaro, one of the national holidays of Italy celebrated in Naples.
On this day, Naples honors one of the city’s patron saints St Gennaro who was the Bishop of Benevento, then later the Bishop of Naples in the 4th century. In case you are in the city, head to the Most Precious Blood Church. From here a procession with thousands of participants will carry the statue of Saint Gennaro.
14. October 4: Feast of St Petronius – Bologna
The next on our list of the main Italian holidays and traditions is the Feast of St Petronius in October. This is a regional public holiday celebrated in Bologna annually since St Petronius is the patron saint of the city. Also, Saint Petronius was the Bishop of Bologna during the 5th century.
On this day some shops will be closed in Bologna. If you happen to be in the city, we recommend you to attend a service in the Basilica, where the Archbishop leads the religious celebration. This way you can truly experience the atmosphere of the city during the Feast of St Petronius.
15. November 1: All Saints’ Day – Tutti i santi (or Ognissanti)
To continue our list of the main holidays in Italy, let’s see what’s next in the Italian calendar: November. The last part of the year is also rich in celebrations. All Saints’ Day, which is also known as Tutti i santi or Ognissanti is one of the most important religious holidays in Italy.
This holiday results in the closure of schools, businesses, and government offices. Traditions include religious commemorations, family get-togethers, and paying respect to departed relatives and friends by lighting up candles. Most Italians also go to the cemetery and place chrysanthemums on the graves of the deceased.
16. December 6: Feast of St Nicholas – Bari
Another important national holiday in Italy is the Feast of St Nicholas. This holiday is mainly celebrated in Bari, but there are traditions linked to this day all over the country. The 6th of December primarily remarks on the day of the death of Saint Nicholas in 343 AD.
Historically, Saint Nicholas was a wealthy Greek Bishop who as a devoted Christian gave gifts to the poor. Needless to say, the 6th of December is strongly associated with the tradition of Santa Clause and Italy is no exception. On this day, children receive gifts in honor of Saint Nicholas. If you’re visiting Bari, make sure you check out the best hotels in Bari too!
17. December 7: The Feast of St Ambrose – Milan
In December the Italian calendar is packed with Italy holidays, so if you visit Italy in the last month of the year, you can be sure that you won’t be bored. The Feast of St Ambrose celebrates the 4th-century archbishop of Milan, who is also known as the Honey-Tongued Doctor.
The legend says that when St Ambrose was a baby, bees started crawling around his mouth, leaving honey on his lips. Today, St Ambrose is considered the patron saint of beekeepers and honey makers. On the day of the Feast of St Ambrose, Christmas festivities and faires start.
18. December 8: Immacolata Concezione (or just Immacolata)
We are slowly getting to the end of our collection of the main Italian national holidays. However, there are some beautiful holiday traditions in Italy we still need to mention.
A good example is Immacolata Concezione or simply Immacolata, which is considered the official start of Christmas shopping. Starting this day of the year shops and fairs become lively, vibrant spots for not only shopping but get-togethers, too. Last, but not least, the main attraction on the 8th of December happens in the evening when finally the Christmas lights are switched on.
19. December 25: Christmas Day – Natale
In December, Christmas is the most important national holiday in Italy. This is the day when the birth of Jesus is celebrated globally, and Italy is no exception. The 25th of December is a public holiday, which is a perfect occasion for families and friends to gather and spend some quality time together.
There are religious services people usually attend, but other than that they stay at home with their loved ones, enjoy delicious meals and celebrate Christmas by giving gifts to each other. Panettone is a typical Christmas sweet that’s present on every Christmas table.
Happy Holidays in Italian for Christmas Day is: Buon Natale!
20. December 26: Santo Stefano
Last, but not least, on our list of the most important Italian national holidays is Santo Stefano. This day is the day after Christmas and it commemorates Saint Stephan who was the very first Christian martyr.
Saint Stephen was a Greek Jew who converted to Christianity and was one of the seven deacons organizing the early Christina church. With Santo Stefano, Italy national holidays get to an end, as people start getting ready for the biggest celebration of the year, New Year’s Eve.
Wrapping up the main national Italian holidays
Now that we got to the end of our collection of the Italy national holidays, we hope you are excited to visit this beautiful country where people truly know how to celebrate special days. So, what are the main holidays in Italy? As you could see, there are public holidays. Easter, Christmas, All Saint’s Day, or Republic Day is when everyone celebrates. Also, there are regional holidays, when certain towns and cities commemorate their patron saints or history. One thing is sure though, visiting Italy is always a good idea no matter the month. If you’re a little bit lucky, you get to experience a national holiday in Italy, which will 100% make your stay even more special.