The Many Days of Feast and Celebration in Italy's February

L’inizio del nuovo anno porta con sé una serie di celebrazioni che tipicamente si snodano tra il mese di febbraio ed aprile. Le celebrazioni del Carnevale culminano nel martedì grasso che apre il periodo della Quaresima, fortemente sentito dai cattolici osservanti che preservano molte delle tradizioni tramandate di generazione in generazione, tra cui quella di rinunciare a qualcosa che piace nei quaranta giorni prima celebrazione della Pasqua. Questo importante periodo che la Chiesa cattolica e altre chiese cristiane celebrano lungo l’anno liturgico è contrassegnato dal Mercoledì delle Ceneri, dalla Domenica delle Palme, dal Giovedì Santo e dal Venerdì Santo.

The start of the New Year brings the start of some significant Italian traditions. Early February marks the beginning of a chain of significant celebrations that last for over a month. From Fat Thursday to Shrove Tuesday and from Shrove Tuesday to Lent, these months are important for practicing Italian Catholics who often indulge in tradition and customs passed down for many years.

Many countries celebrate Fat Thursday in their own unique ways. In Italy, this day is known as Giovedì Grasso. This day signifies the last Thursday before Lent begins. It is also associated with Carnival, which is a celebration similar to Halloween in which the participants wear makes and celebrate with festivals and sweets. Fat Thursday is a feasting day that brings family and friends together in a celebratory congregation before the fast of Lent. Special sweets and meats are served throughout this day and then not consumed again until after Lent.

Giovedì Grasso is not very different from another celebration that occurs not too long after. This next holiday is called Shrove Tuesday, or Martedì Grasso in Italy. It occurs in the week following Giovedì Grasso. Other countries may address this day as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. This day is also focused on eating before Lent. It typically takes place in either February or March. The celebration is most popular in Venice and this day is considered the most important day of Carnival.

Lent follows both Fat Thursday and Shrove Tuesday and it will last from February to March in 2018. During this time, Catholics fast for about a month from Ash Wednesday until nearly Easter. This day runs until Holy Thursday in accordance with the Catholic Church. It involves fasting or giving up a luxury for 40 days in order to honor Jesus’ 40 days spent in the desert. Easter follows shortly after Lent. There are several holy days that take place during Lent and these may vary depending on the country. For example, Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday are scattered throughout the month. Depending on the family or the country, some individuals may or may not celebrate these other occurrences during the month, but it is up to the individual to decide what days that they will or will not honor.

While oftentimes feasts and celebrations are used for fun and pleasure, these days are more of a nod to a more traditional and religious aspect of Italian culture and other cultures shared around the world. By honoring these days, one is honoring their own religion and customs at the start of the year and the rest of the year will surely follow in a similar way.