In order to understand why Florence celebrates their own Capodanno, or New Year’s, on the 25th of March, we must go back into history to the year 1582 when the invention of the Gregorian calendar changed the landscape of European history. Although the beginning date of the new year was shifted to the 1st of January by the new Gregorian calendar, Florentines continued to celebrate their “new year” on March 25th, a date which undoubtedly was not chosen at random: it’s exactly 9 months before Christmas.
This date also coincides with the date in which the Catholic Church celebrates the Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary. What does that mean for the city of Florence? Well, the Basilica di Santissima Annunziata will be at the center of the day’s festivities, with particular attention on the fresco inside the church that represents the Annunciation.
According to legends, the artist commissioned to paint the fresco could not paint the face of the Virgin. An angel then went to help him and completed the painting of Mary, therefore it is the painting itself that gives the church its name and which is still preserved inside.
During the Florentine Capodanno (New Year), a historical parade will wind through the streets of the city center, starting at the Palagio di Parte Guelphi through Piazza Repubblica, the Duomo & finally on to Piazza SS. Annunziata to give white lilies as homage to the miraculous portrait of the Virgin Mary.
Despite a decree from the Grand Duke Francis III of Lorraine issued in 1749 that officially changed the start of the New Year for Florentine’s to January 1st, the city continues to celebrate this traditional day 250 years later.
You can catch all the excitement at 3:30 pm starting from just behind Piazza Repubblica. The historical parade will wind through the main squares of Florence, finishing at the Basilica di Santissima Annunziata at 4:15pm for the homage of the lilies.