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Italian Winter Holidays - Visit Sicily

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by: Levi Reiss
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Word Count: 427
Date: Mon, 25 Nov 2013 Time: 3:27 PM

Sicily is a Mediterranean island situated to the southwest of southern Italy. Its winters are relatively mild. The almonds start to bloom in mid-February. But don't go there only for the weather; if you do so, you might well be disappointed. But you will enjoy the variety of winter festivals. Sicily celebrates All Saints' Day on November 1 followed by All Souls' Day also known as the Feast of the Dead. Families visit the cemeteries and eat special cookies known as "Bones of the Dead."

December 4, Saint Barbara Day, is celebrated in the Sicilian town of Paterno on the slopes of Mount Etna volcano. After the parade citizens set up a nativity scene. Santa Lucia Day, December 13, is celebrated in many Italian localities including the city of Siracusa whose huge parade includes a golden coffin carrying the saint to the Church of Santa Lucia. There is a week of festivities culminating with a big fireworks display over the harbor and another parade that brings the coffin back to the crypt. Among the many nativity scenes make sure that you see the one in Custonaci which is re-enacted inside a cave. The exhibition includes a traditional nativity scene and an ancient village boasting shops. The town of Acireale is also known for its nativity scene. Celebrate New Years's Eve in Palermo with fireworks and an outdoor music show.

In early January Piana degli Albanesi holds a Greek Orthodox Ritual and Procession. Nicolosi, near Mount Etna, celebrates San Antonio Abate on January 17. Get up early; ceremonies begin before dawn when the monks repeat their vows of dedication to God and to the Saint. The day continues with parades and solemn ceremonies. Many places in Sicily celebrate the Feast Day of San Sebastiano on January 20. For example, in Mistretta it takes sixty men to parade his statue through the town.

On February 4 Catania honors its patron saint, Saint Agatha, with a festival said to include the world's second largest religious procession. Her statue is placed on a fercolo, a 40,000 pound silver carriage, pulled up Monte Sangiuliano by 5,000 men. The festival lasts two days and two nights and culminates in a huge fireworks display. Make sure to taste some of the marzipan specialties. Almond Blossom Fair in Agrigento, Sicily, is a weeklong festival from the first through the second Sunday in February. You'll find an International Folklore Festival with music, singing, parades, puppet shows and open-air performances. Traditional Sicilian sweets made with almonds and almond paste are served. And wherever you go and whatever you do, check out the fine Sicilian wines.

About the Author

Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but prefers drinking fine wine with the right foods. He teaches computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his Italian travel website and his global wine website featuring weekly bargain wine reviews.

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