The Unique New Year's Tradition in Southern Italy: Release & Transform

Updated: Sep 29, 2020

by Sierra Busch and Frances Reid

One of my favorite things about my job is discovering unique traditions in Italy that I’ve never heard of. One I find particularly interesting is the Fanòve festival, which takes place in Castellana Grotte in the southern region of Puglia, Italy at the beginning of the new year.

I’ve written a whole blog post about it here, but essentially, it’s a ritual of transformation that involves burning things from the past that they want to release. They build bonfires so big that they need ladders to reach the top, then they light them up and celebrate around it all night!

The practice actually dates back to the Dark Ages when the town’s patron saint told them to burn all their belongings, liberating them from the bubonic plague.

a crowd gathered around a giant bonfire in a piazza in italy which has just been lit
an enormous pile of sticks and logs dusted with snow in an italian piazza with cloudy skies
two huge bonfires at night with an old italian building in the back

Though I haven’t yet experienced this unique New Year's tradition in person, I did experience a total transformation while living in the village where it takes place. I let go of the past and turned my full attention to my inner vision and creating the future I wanted. I fully believe in the power of the Fanòve, and in general, the power of taking time to let go of things from the past year that will not serve your goals for the next. Burn the things that are plaguing you– literally.

As this year comes to a close, I want to share my method for starting a new year with purpose. It’s inspired by the transformational New Year's tradition of the southern Italian Fanòve festival but mingled with my very organized, go-getter, goal-oriented mind that just can’t stop dreaming. So grab a notebook and a cappuccino, turn off distractions, and dive in!

Woman sits on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Amalfi Coast in Italy