Sicilian festivals are important to the people of Sicily. While many revolve around religious holidays, carnivals are considered secular events. They are traditionally held in the week preceding the beginning of Lent. Originally the festivals were intended to use up fresh food, since Lent is a time of prayer and fasting. Some of the more famous carnivals are held in the communes of Sciacca, Acireale and Termini Immerse. Those participating in these Sicilian festivals typically wear masks. While the masks worn in Italian carnivals are usually like those of Pulcinella or Brighella, traditional Sicilian masks are more characteristic of Jardinara or Varca, especially in the province of Palermo. The people of Sicily are said to be both religious and superstitious. Carnivals are full of symbolic gestures, such as the burning of the puppets, which symbolizes the burning of the bad part of the soul.
The floats in the parades are sometimes representative of political groups from Sicily’s past. But, even for a person that is not familiar with the symbolism, these parades are a joy to witness. In some areas, the parades last for two or three days. For example, Sciacca’s carnival begins on Saturday and ends on Tuesday. The people of Sicily are close-knit families. Children are very important to the parents and generally accompany them to all social events. The children love the parades and the floats are designed to be entertaining and delightful to young and old, alike. Many Sicilian festivals date back to ancient times. The origins of the carnival date back to 1600. In addition to the carnivals, there are celebrations of major religious holidays and some that celebrate religion itself. For example, the Byzantine Epiphany Celebrations are held in January on an annual basis. This is a religious event, but many non-religious people enjoy the ceremony.
Each town has a patron saint and a celebration is held in that saint’s honor every year. In Acireale, the celebration is held in January in honor of Saint Sebastian. In Catania, the Feast of Saint Agatha is held in February. Tourists, as well as the people of Sicily, enjoy the Almond Blossom Festival, which is also in February. It’s a traditional folk festival held in the Valley of the Temples, which boasts parades, shows, crafts and other exhibits. St Joseph’s Day is in March and celebrations occur throughout Sicily on that day. Special pastries, breads and dinners are prepared in his honor. An international film festival is held in Taormina every year, usually in early July. An Arab style horse race is held in Note each June. Every month of the year, there are Sicilian festivals to enjoy. For tourists, there is really no end of things to do and see in Sicily.
Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and is an independent region of Italy. Sicily has a rich cultural heritage and is famous for its arts, architecture, cuisine and language. Sicily is accessible by road, rail, sea and air. It has two main airports with domestic and international connectivity at Catania and Palermo. The airport at Trapani has been opened to ease air traffic, and another one at Ragusa/Corniso is scheduled to open in spring 2009. Trains forming part of the Italian rail network cross to Sicily at Massina. Sicily Villa rentals offer tourists great holidays at affordable rates. Instead of expensive hotels villas offer space, comfort and flexibility to tourists who can consider staying for a longer time at this beautiful island. It’s warm climate all year round, archaeological remains, clear blue waters, delectable cuisine, combine to make it a great vacation destination in groups or alone. Sicily is an unparalleled tourist’s delight with its Romanesque cathedrals and amphitheatres, Greek temples and Baroque churches.