How is the Immaculate Conception (Immacolata Concezione) celebrated in Italy?

The Immaculate Conception (Immacolata Concezione in Italian), observed as an Italian public holiday every December 8th, honours the Catholic dogma declared by Pope Pius IX in 1854. This doctrine affirms that the Virgin Mary was free from original sin from the moment of her conception, a belief rooted in Catholic tradition. The day holds significance in commemorating Mary’s divine grace and purity in accordance with Catholic teachings.

Is the Feast of Immaculate Conception a Public Holiday in Italy?

Yes, the feast of the Immaculate Conception is a nationwide public holiday in Italy, just as it is in countries like Argentina, Austria, Chile, Colombia, Malta, Portugal and Spain. Organisations and businesses including government offices, post offices, banks, schools, and other educational institutions tend to close on this day. However, many shops remain open for Christmas shopping, and transport options are available, though travellers are advised to check routes and timetables.

What do Italians do on December 8th?

The Immaculate Conception Feast (la Festa dell’Immacolata Concezione) stands out as one of the holiest celebrations in December. People gather for church masses, and a notable event is led by the Catholic pope in Rome. There, the pope kneels in prayer, placing a floral wreath on the Madonna statue at Piazza Mignanelli. Street entertainment, featuring jugglers and clowns, contributes to the overall festive ambiance.

Mother Mary with her hands together praying to the God

The celebration is not exclusive to the church or Roman people; everyone is encouraged to join the revelry. The day often involves putting up Christmas trees and decorations, visiting art cities, explore exhibitions, and experience traditional Christmas markets.

Happy men and woman family relatives indoors at home at Christmas, decorating tree.

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception also marks the initiation of Christmas festivities with large communal meals around family tables and traditional dishes.

In Matera, for example, Italians start fasting on the 7th in order to prepare for the feast of the following day. Then, at lunchtime on the 8th, children and the elderly nibble on a unique food called Tarallo dell’Immacolata, also known as pan di tarallo, to keep hunger at bay, while everyone else dips them in red wine. You can see how it is made in the video below!

This culinary tradition sets the stage for the Immaculate Conception dinner, boasting a distinctive menu that includes cod prepared in a stew or fried, complemented by a starter of spaghetti with garlic, oil, and chili pepper.

Do you celebrate the Immaculate Conception in your household? Let us know in the comments below!


How is the Immaculate Conception (Immacolata Concezione) celebrated in Italy?

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