So you thought you were done with New Year celebrations for 2012? Think again. In Florence, March 25th marks the Florentine New Year and there’s a traditional parade and festivities to mark it. In the Catholic calendar, March 25th is the Feast Day of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. From the Middle Ages until the mid 18th century, Florence used this special day to mark the beginning of the city’s own civic year.
Although the city council’s calendar may have had to fall in line with other cities and countries, the traditional celebrations continue, centering around the Basilica of the Santissima Annunziata. The festivities go all day, with music and dancing and a parade through the streets from Palazzo Vecchio to the Piazza SS Annunziata where the church is located. The city’s officials accompany people dressed in traditional Florentine Costumes. When they reach the church, they head inside to pay homage to the Virgin Mary.
The Basilica of the Santissima Annunziata houses a 13th century fresco of the Annunciation in the Chapel of the Holy Effigy which is famous for a miracle that occurred during its painting. The artist completed all but the Virgin’s face before falling asleep; when he awoke her beautiful face shone out from the fresco, painted by angels. It’s before this painting that Florentines give thanks. Outside, a small market sells traditional crafts and candies to keep up the energy of the waiting crowd. At night, the festivities continue with a concert in the piazza.