In Florence this week we celebrate the Rificolona, ancient and typical tradition of Florence and surroundings. The rificolona is a paper lantern lighted with a candle and put on top of a stick that is carried along the streets of Florence on the night before September 8th.
A bit of history
This tradition is related to ancient times when farmers and peasants from the countryside went in procession to Florence to celebrate the birth of the Virgin Mary in Piazza Santissima Annunziata. At that time there was no electricity and people used to carry a lantern, made of paper or fabric to light up the street.
People came both to celebrate the Virgin and to sell their products at the local market on the next day. They departed the night before so that they could take a good place to sell their products. So every September 7th at night a colorful procession of lanterns reached Piazza Santissima Annunziata.
Nowadays the rificolana is an unmissable appointment for Florentine children and their families. They religious part of the event has been lost, but we still keep the tradition alive with a long and colorful procession around the streets of Florence and in the towns and villages in the surroundings.
The rificolona are still made out of paper but they don’t usually have candles any more and use an electric bulb. Sometimes the rificolona are hand made at school or at special workshops for children and can have any shape and any color, even though the most traditional one is the sun shaped rificolona.