Rome celebrates its 2,774th birthday in 2021

Rome’s birthday celebrations for Natale di Roma move online for the second year due to covid-19.

Rome celebrates its 2,774th birthday on 21 April 2021. Known as Natale di Roma, the annual birthday celebration is based on Rome’s legendary founding by Romulus in 753 BC.

Traditionally, the celebrations include historical re-enactments such as costumed parades and gladiator fights; however, in 2021, events will be moved online for the second year in a row due to Italy’s covid-19 restrictions.

Events are usually centered in the Circus Maximus. They include gladiator fights and the trench-digging ritual, known as the tracciato del solco, which recalls ancient Roman towns’ founding when a trench or mundus was dug. Offerings were thrown into it to encourage the gods to watch over the inhabitants.

Other re-enactments include the agricultural Palilia ceremony. Dating back to before the founding of Rome, the ceremony was held in honor of the goddess Pales, protector of flocks and herds, and involved vestal virgins distributing straw and the ashes and blood of sacrificed animals before jumping over a bonfire three times.

The highlight of the Natale di Roma festivities, the grand parade, usually includes more than 1,500 costumed participants processing to and from the Circus Maximus via the Colosseum.

The pageant is organized by the Gruppo Storico Romano, a historical dramatic society that has brought history to life for more than 20 years by re-enacting battles, historical events, and displays of ancient theatre and dance in the city center.

Photo credit: Corina Daniela Obertas / Shutterstock.com

Under the slogan “We won’t give up,” this year, the group’s re-enactments will be streamed on Sunday 18 April from Italy’s National Etruscan Museum at Villa Giulia.

The online program of events will be available near the Gruppo Storico Romano website and Facebook page.