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Yes, you read the title correctly. The magnificent art city of Florence celebrates its New Year on March 25th every year. This date coincides with the Feast of the Annunciation and also with “Dantedì”, an unofficial holiday honoring the great Florentine poet Dante Alighieri. Let’s dig deeper into this tradition and find out how you can take part in it as well.
How the Tradition Began
The Feast of the Annunciation in the Christian tradition represents the date that the archangel Gabriel visited the Virgin Mary telling her that she would bear the son of God, Jesus Christ. It is universally celebrated in almost all sects of the Christian faith.
The date began its association with the new year coinciding with the Incarnation of Christ as early as the sixth century AD. In Florence, the actual celebration probably began during the Middle Ages even though the Gregorian Calendar was already widely in effect.
We know for a fact that in the year 1750, the tradition was banned by Grand Duke Francis II of Lorraine when he decreed the new year would be celebrated according to the Gregorian Calendar on January 1.
Tip: You can actually see the plaque with this decree in the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence’s Piazza della Signoria.
Other places to see in the historic center that are related to the Annunciation include the Marian shrine of the Church of Santissima Annunziata and its famous painting. Legend says that a friar by the name of Bartholomew began the painting and when he wasn’t able to complete the Virgin Mary’s face, the hand of angels took over in order to finish the piece.
What to Expect
Unbelievably, the tradition wasn’t officially rekindled until the year 2000 when the municipality made it an official holiday, and with the exception of the Covid pandemic, it has been drawing curious crowds and die-hard Florentines ever since.
Once again, the city has planned an actual week of events related to the new year celebration called the Settimana del Fiorentino.
On the 25th, around 3 pm, the historical procession begins from the Piazzetta di Parte Guelfa to the Basilica of Santissima Annunziata, where a solemn ceremony is held. This is a spectacular event with historical costumes, the famous Florentine flag wavers (Sbandieratori degli Uffizi), and also the Brindellone, a large wagon that shoots off fireworks on Easter Sunday as well (located near Porta a Prato).
There is also a special spring market held in Piazza Santissima Annunziata offering all kinds of artisan crafts and typically-Florentine food items.
Expect the city center to be crowded because in addition to all the events planned around the new year, it also happens to be the FAI Primavera weekend meaning that lots of locations normally closed to the public will be open.
Continue reading about the city of Florence.