Famous Neapolitan traditions

In this article we will guide you to the major Neapolitan traditions. Naples is a city rich in history, art and culture, but its traditions are even more spectacular. Christmas, Carnival, San Gennaro… Naples is not only a thousand colors, but is able to excite with its devotion.

What are the Neapolitan traditions?

  • Cantata dei Pastori: Christmas is a very beautiful moment in all parts of Italy. The historic centers are decorated, the lights accompany the signs of the shops. However, visiting Naples during this period allows you to rediscover an ancient Neapolitan tradition, namely the Cantata dei Pastori. Andrea Perrucci, a playwright of Sicilian descent, wrote this play to celebrate the birth of Jesus, at the end of the 1600s. It is divided into three acts and is one of the most fascinating shows to attend. If you are around Naples during this time, do not miss it!

San Gennaro: the auspicious miracle

  • The Miracle of San Gennaro: everyone knows San Gennaro. The patron Saint of the city is the one addressed to the Neapolitans in difficulty. For the people of Naples, San Gennaro is much more than the patron: it is a kind of positive entity that watches over them. Among the most famous traditions, therefore, it is impossible not to mention his miracle. The latter dates back to August 15, 1389. It was the feast of the Assumption, there had been performances and the celebration in the city. Notables were coming to Naples from Avignon. On this occasion, the relic of the saint was exhibited. The miracle concerns the blood liquefaction, which was contained in an ampoule. This tradition is maintained twice a year: in September and May. Blood liquefaction is considered a good omen;
  • Pulcinella mask: if we name Pulcinella, Naples immediately comes to mind. The mask is an invention of Silvio Fiorillo, during the second half of the ‘500. However, Pulcinella’s origins date back to antiquity. Every year, at Carnival, you can watch people dressed as Pulcinella. It is one of the most appreciated costume of all time and it is possible to attend at the theater numerous shows with him as protagonist;
  • The Neapolitan Smorfia: Lotto is a game now known and appreciated throughout Italy. Draws take place live nationally and the numbers have a precise meaning, which comes from the “Smorfia”. Although the origins of the Lotto game can be traced back to Ancient Rome, it is in Naples that this tradition has found its maximum expression. Thanks to the Neapolitan Smorfia – a book that, often, everyone has in the house – it is possible to understand the meaning of various numbers;

The Neapolitan Nativity: we had anticipated it before. In Naples, Christmas is a truly fascinating event. In addition to the Cantata dei Pastori, we recommend you to visit the various living Nativity scenes around the city. In addition, you can buy, at the handcraft shops in the center, the shepherds, made completely by hand, for your own Nativity scene. Their realization is a very long, finely artistic work. They are very faithful reproductions and are invaluable.

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