Devotion and folklore. These are the two words that best describe the feast of Saint Agatha in Catania. Every year this Sicilian city lights up to pay homage to their patron saint and the celebration culminates on February 5th with the procession. On the occasion of this day, Dimensione Sicilia offers two special tours to discover Sicily in winter and participate – in fact – in the celebrations in honor of the Saint.
They say that this one of the most beautiful patronal festivals in Italy and in the world. Saint Agatha, the patron saint of Catania, is celebrated on February 5th, i.e. on the day of her martyrdom. Yet, the celebrations begin on Feb. 3rd and are a mix of traditions, religion and folklore. We have already talked about these celebrations (HERE) so today we want to reveal some curiosities and present two tours that Dimensione Sicilia offers exceptionally for this winter period.
Let’s celebrate again
After the stop due to the pandemic, the celebrations for Saint Agatha that every year attract thousands of tourists, both devotees and not, are back. According to the program, the first day (February 3rd) is the one in which some tall and heavy candles are offered to ask protection. It is a very evocative moment known as ‘the procession of the candelore’. Since – according to tradition – the candles are associated with the guilds of the trades, people stop near their shops before proceeding with the so-called ‘annacata’. The candelorists sway with their own candle, competing to see who can do the best in this kind of dance…without losing their balance!
The emotion of the second day
Usually on February 4th it is the most important day, or at least the most exciting one. The city meets the Patroness and at dawn the devotees crowd into the streets of Catania. People ‘on parade’ wear a white votive gown, a black cap and white gloves. The meaning of the so-called ‘sacco’ (this is its name) evokes the night outfit (‘pajamas’) that the people of Catania wore when, in 1126, they ran to meet the relics of Saint Agatha arrived from Constantinople.
The best has yet to come…
The procession organized on February 4th lasts from morning to evening, it is like a story that winds through the places of martyrdom, the history of Saint Agatha and the city. It is a roundup of beauty between the cathedral, the marina, the plague column that is linked to the miracle of the Saint happened in 1743.
Cittadini, cittadini, semu tutti devoti tutti, cittadini, viva sant’Agata!
It is with this motto that in the crowd it’s possible to perceive how Saint Agatha and her spirit are still alive. An engaging atmosphere that fades in the middle of the night and then comes back on February 5th, the peak of the celebrations. On this day, the cart carrying Saint Agatha is decorated with white carnations (on the 4th, instead, they are red like the blood of martyrdom), and at sunset the second part of the procession takes off through the streets of the center of Catania. When the sun rises on Feb. 6th, the relics of the patron saint arrive in via Crociferi, this is the last stop. Silence is breathed in the air and in the background there are only the voices of the nuns.
Sicilian Secrets tours for the celebration of Saint Agatha
Dimensione Sicilia offers two itineraries to experience Catania for the celebrations dedicated to Saint Agatha. The first option is an 8-day tour starting on January 30th (DETAILS 8-DAY TOUR), alternatively you can book a shorter tour of 5 days starting on February 2nd (DETAILS 5-DAY TOUR). It will be an opportunity not only to take part in a very important moment for all the inhabitants of Catania but also to discover a new face of the island, the most secret one away from the summer months.