Italians celebrate many holidays, including international, national and religious holidays. The major holidays include New Year's Day (January 1), Epiphany (January 6), Easter/Liberation Day (April 25), Labor Day (May 1), Republic Day (June 2), Feast of the Assumption (August 15), All Saints' Day (November 1), Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8), Christmas (December 25), St. Stephen's Day (December 26) and New Year's Eve (December 31).
Italians celebrate Christmas, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day with celebrations similar to many countries around the world. Epiphany Day is the last holy day of the Christmas season, celebrating the arrival of the three Kings to the stable where baby Jesus lay, in the Christian tradition. Based on Italian folklore, on this day a kind-hearted witch, la Befana, brings small gifts and toys to well-behaved children.
Liberation Day celebrates the day that Italy was freed from fascism at the end of World War II by the Allied troops. May Day commemorates the achievements of the country's labor unions. Many demonstrations and protests for workers' rights are held on this day. Republic Day celebrates the day Italy ended monarchy rule and became a republic in 1946. The Feast of the Assumption, also known as Assumption Day, celebrates the day, in the Catholic belief, that God took the body of the Virgin Mary into heaven. On this day, statues of the Virgin Mary are marched through the streets.
All Saints' Day is a day to remember all the Catholic saints. The Feast of the Immaculate Conception honors the Virgin Mary and the immaculate conception in the Catholic tradition. Families typically attend mass on this day. St. Stephen's Day, the day after Christmas, honors the first Christian martyr and is typically marked by visits to nativity scenes at churches. Carnevale, or Mardis Gras, is not a major public holiday but is widely celebrated in certain Italian regions, including Venice. Festive parades, masquerade balls and feasts commemorate this day before Lent begins.