What Are Customs and Traditions of Italy?

Customs and traditions in Italy include the Lily Festival, Olive and Bruschetta Festival, swordfish hunts and other celebrations of food, wine, religion, history, the arts and agriculture. Religious festivals in Italy typically stem from Roman Catholic origins, and include celebrations such as Epiphany and Carnival. Italians also celebrate international holidays, such as Christmas and Easter, but in different ways.

Historically, religion played a central role in the lives of Italians. However, the younger generation of Italians consider religion less important than their grandparents. Older Italians, particularly those living in rural areas, attend church services frequently. Others attend only on special occasions, such as Christmas and Easter.

Italians celebrate Christmas through food and gifts similar to Americans. However, instead of decorating homes with Christmas trees, Italians decorate living spaces with nativity sets that serve as reminders of the religious origins of the holiday. They also create elaborate creches to display indoors or outside.

Italians pay tribute to agriculture because it provides them with food and jobs. Agricultural and harvest festivals take place year round. For example, the annual Olive and Bruschetta Festival occurs on the third Sunday of February in the town of Spello, and it brings the olive harvest season to an end. The Lily Festival in Naples commemorates the return of St. Paulinus in 394 A.D. following exile in Africa, while the Venice Biennale celebrates traditional and performing arts of Italy.