March 21 is the official beginning of Spring, Primaver but here in Tuscany we celebrate New Year’s day, on March 25th, which was the feast of the Annunciation, in the Catholic church.
Pope Gregory created the Gregorian Calendar in 1582 and declared January 1 as the beginning of the new year but Florence kept March 25th. In 1749, it was also recognized by the Granduca Francesco Lorena. In the year 2000, Florence reinstated the festivities.
It is also 9 months before Christmas, this is also the Feast of the Annunciation…. Mary being visited by the angel telling her she was pregnant. Can you immagine?
Often you will find religious holidays on what were once pagan holidays.
There are wonderful parades all around, I have attended the one in Florence often and a couple of years back attended one in Pisa which was really interesting as it ended inside the main church where the sun passed through a special window, for the equinox.
Many churches have something like this. In Palermo there was markings on the floor in brass, which showed the signs of the zodiac. At a certain hour, the sun passed in front of a tiny hole in the roof and the sunray hit the marking at a different place daily, marking the passing of time.
I find it all fascinating and adore the parades.
When you see these faces in the costumes, it is as if time has stopped.
I hope that you can experience a festival in Italy. Most are based on religious holidays, but many are for the seasons as well.