What holiday is december 8 in Italy? December 8 is a public holiday in Italy. Many lucky people take advantage of this holiday to take little vacation, especially if the feast falls on a Friday or a Monday.
What holiday is december 8 in Italy?
The 8 December feast celebrates the so called Immacolata Concezione, Immaculate Conception. And this creates a lot of confusion. Many people, me included until some time ago, believe that this refers to the conception of Jesus by virgin Mary. Well, it’s not that.
The Immaculate Conception refers to the birth of Mary, born immune to the original sin. She needed to be so, in order to give birth to the son of God.
The day of the Christmas tree
December 8 is by tradition the day in which people decorate the Christmas tree (albero di Natale).
But I do not respect this tradition. I decorate the tree each year on a different day. For 2 years in a row I was so blue (thanks to my horrible neighbours) that I didn’t even felt like having a Christmas tree. This year I decided to get over with it and I prepared everything on November 25 already. 😀
There are other exceptions. In Milan people prepare the tree on December 7, Sant’Ambrogio day. In Puglia on the 6, San Nicola day.
The decorations should then be removed after the Epiphany (January 6).
Madonna dei Noli in Padua
On December 8 in Padua we celebrate the Madonna dei Noli, protector of taxi drivers. It’s a statue located on the top of a column, in the centre of Piazza Garibaldi. The piazza was once called piazza dei Noli (rentals), because it was the starting point of the coaches. Now there are the taxis.
The story says that the parishioners of the close church, tired of the vulgar language of the coach drivers and their clients, erected this column as a warning sign. After the visit of Garibaldi at the end of 1800, the piazza changed name; it became piazza Garibaldi. The hero of the two worlds statue took the place of the madonna. But the population wanted it back, and so it is now. Garibaldi now guards (not very carefully) the entrance of the public gardens.
Anyway, on December 8 at 11 am, there’s a mass at the close Saint Andrew church (3 minutes away). Then a procession to reach the column. Many city groups take part in this: public transport drivers, the Immacolata butchers, Green Cross drivers, firefighters, merchants.
Around noon, both the mayor and the bishop give a speech. Then, the firemen adorn the statue with a flower garland and throw rose petals to the crowd.
My father, fervent Catholic, used to bring me here every year. The authority speeches were a bore to me, but I liked the garland part, of course. 🙂 And… that’s basically the same now that I’m an adult. If you are in Padua on that day, you can stop by to watch the celebration.
December 8 is also the day in which Christmas Markets open in Padua, along the main streets of the city centre. I absolutely love them! So I often take advantage of this day to take a walk in the city center, watch the statue celebration and take a look at the markets products. I always end up buying a new decoration for my tree. 🙂