Italy marks Feast of the Immaculate Conception with 8 December holiday

Rome to light up Christmas tree on Festa dell’Immacolata.

Italy marks the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a Catholic holy day, with a national public holiday on 8 December.
 
The fact that the festa falls on a Thursday this year means that many people will turn the occasion into a “ponte” (bridge) or four-day weekend.
 
One of the main events associated with the day in Italy is the pope’s pilgrimage to the statue of the Madonna at Piazza Mignanelli in Rome.
 
For the last two years Pope Francis has made unannounced visits at dawn to the statue near the Spanish Steps.
 
This year however the visit is set to become a public event once more, with the pontiff expected to arrive at 16.00.
  • Rome to light up Christmas tree on 8 December
The day, known in Italy as L’Immacolata, is also viewed as the official start of the Christmas shopping season.
 
Another Roman tradition on 8 December is the illumination of the capital’s Christmas tree in Piazza Venezia. 
 
Rome mayor Roberto Gualtieri will switch on the lights of the tree, a 23-metre high fir, at 18.00, along with the Christmas lights over the central Via del Corso. 
 
A novelty this year will see the city make its entire public transport network free for the day.