Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Joyous Epiphany!

The Twelve Days of Christmas mark the time between Christmas Day and the beginning of Epiphany, the celebration of the Wise Men visiting the baby Jesus. In Italy and many other European countries the season between Christmas and Epiphany is a time for family and friends. Shops and businesses close or have reduced hours, and families gather for celebrations together. The festivities culminate on Epiphany, January 6.

There's no place I'd rather be for the start of Epiphany than Florence, Italy. The city's twinkly lights are festive and bright. The city center is filled with charming shops and pedestrian streets. But that's not the real attraction.

On Epiphany Firenze (Florence) stages a live creche in front of the Duomo and a parade of Florentines -- including three kings -- in Renaissance costume make their way across the Arno and through Piazza della Signoria to the Duomo to pay their respects to the Christ Child.

With falconers and flag throwers, peasants and princesses, the pageant is a marvelous celebration. And because it is the end of tourist season, the celebration is truly for Firenze's faithful -- the men and women and children who live and work in the city, not the tourists.

The shops close, and thousands of people gather to watch the costumed participants.

And once the parade passes, people fall in line behind making their way to the Duomo heralded by the ringing of the church bells.

Enjoy your own Epiphany celebrations, wherever you are.

PS: I took these photos during the 2007 Epiphany celebration in Florence.


Kim Kasch said...

How cool! I was going to do a post on the Epiphany but lost track of time. I'm glad because yours is soooo much better.

Thanks for this.

TattingChic said...

How exciting to actually be in Florence last year at this time to witness the celebration! Thanks for sharing. I didn't know all that. :)

Travelwriter said...

In Austria we celebrate Epiphany as well. Generally it is the day where the Christmas period ends for us. Thanks for the nice and educative blog!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I've never known about this--how totally fun! Sounds like visiting Italy in the winter might be a better thing somehow!

Angela K. Nickerson said...

Actually, Green Girl, I prefer Italy in the winter! It is far less crowded. The weather is never really bad (unless it floods...). And the off-season is MUCH cheaper, too, so I can stay a much longer time. :)

Anonymous said...

I SO hope to go one day! i want a creche too!

Julianne Douglas said...

How interesting! I'd never heard of this procession before. I would love to see it sometime and pretend it really is the Renaissance. :) Thanks for sharing the beautiful pictures!

Brenda said...

I, also, have never heard of this before either. It would be so awesome to visit during this. You are blessed and lucky to be able to experience this in person. The pictures are breath-taking!

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