Paper Lantern Festival, Florence, Italy
"No my friend, darkness is not everywhere, for here and there I find faces illuminated from within; paper lanterns among the dark trees."
- Carole Borges
The Festa della Rificolona (Festival of Paper Lanterns) is held each year on the evening of September 7 to celebrate the birth of the Virgin Mary who, according to Christian legend, was born on September 8. The event is believed to have originated in the 17th century, when hundreds of peasants and farmers from the surrounding areas would make the long trek into the city to celebrate. Since they would leave before dawn to make it to the religious services on time, they used lanterns to light their way. The lanterns were often carried at the end of a stick, protected by a frame made of thin cloth. The farmers brought goods with them...cheese, honey, the season's vegetables and small handmade items and a market day was held in the square on September 8 after the religious services.
The Basilica of Santissima Annunziata in Florence dedicates her birthday as a day of celebration. On the eve of her birth, Florentines carry paper lanterns at the end of a stick as they make their way through the streets of Florence, guided by the Cardinal, who gives a speech in the square, followed by a party.
A huge crowd attended the event but, to our surprise, only a few people brought lanterns. It would have been an amazing scene if everyone had brought them because the turnout of people was good. After the Cardinal's speech, some people went into the cathedral and others stayed in the square to party. We headed back to our apartment as it was almost midnight and we still had a long walk home.
Carole Borges (1941-2016), quoted above, was an author and poet. A beautiful farewell to her can be found here.