Saint Bartholomews Day
This year: Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Saint Bartholomew's Day (S. Bartolomeo) is celebrated on Sunday, nearest to the date of August 24 and it is not a bank holiday in Italy.
Saint Bartholomew was one of the twelve Jesus Christ's apostles. We know a little about the story of his life and we do know that it looks more like a legend. His real name was Nathaniel; he got the name Bartholomew when adult. While according to other sources his name was Jesus and he had to change it for another according to an unwritten law of Syria.
After his death his body was taken to the Lipari (a small island not far from Sicily), where his relics are still kept at St. Bartholomew's Cathedral.
Certain wonderful phenomenon connected with the name of Saint Bartholomew took place before and after his death. There is one miracle that became widely known among citizens of Lipari Island. His body was found on the bank of a river and bishop of a local church gathered several men to take the body to the city. They simply could not raise it. Then bishop gathered several children and they carried it as if it was as light as feather.
Since the time when St. Bartholomew's body was found on the island, this day became a holiday. For this occasion they took a big silver or gold statue from the Cathedral and carried it around the whole city. Today this is a very big holiday and a huge number of people celebrate it.
This is a national holiday. On this day catholic churches serve masses to commemorate the saint. Out on city streets people play traditional games, such as tug-of-war, chase each other sack races, " abundance tree " (albero della cuccagna), which is a pole with all kinds of presents on the top, etc.
On this day on the main square of the city there is usually testing of products produced in all parts of Italy. Every evening restaurants offer special dishes. Both adults and children enjoy performances, exhibitions of art and sculpture. Traditionally, at the close of the holiday there is a wind band performance, which older people especially like.