8 December 2015

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Prayers are followed by bonfires and feasting

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated on this day throughout Italy every year.
Christmas trees are traditionally lit up on December 8 in Italy
Christmas tree in Salerno
lit up for the festivities
Photo: Soloxsalerno (CC BY-SA 3.0)

It is a public holiday everywhere, when banks and offices are closed, special masses take place in the churches and people celebrate the start of Christmas.

It is an official festa in the Christian calendar, when the immaculate conception of Jesus is celebrated. The day commemorates Mary, the mother of Jesus, being given the grace of God to live a life ‘free of sin.’

Many people attend Mass and the Pope leads the celebrations from Rome.

The day was officially declared a festa by the Vatican in 1854.

It marks the official start of the Christmas season in Italy, when the lights and trimmings go up.

The shops are open and do a brisk trade, with many people not at work taking the opportunity to do some Christmas shopping.

Bonfires are lit in some parts of Italy and the different areas celebrate with their own traditional food and wine.

Travel tip:

Since 1953, the Pope has visited the Column of the Immaculate Conception in Piazza Mignanelli in Rome on 8 December and laid flowers at the base of this monument to the Virgin Mary.
Christmas markets are held all over Italy during the festive period
Christmas market in Piazza Navona
Photo: Mitravabanerjee [CC BY-SA 3.0)

Travel tip:

A big Christmas market is held every year in Piazza Navona in the centre of Rome, running until Epiphany on 6 January. The stalls sell Christmas decorations and gifts, nativity figures, traditional food, roasted chestnuts and hot wine.


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