Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

The confusion over Italy’s shortest day

The confusion over Italy’s shortest day
In every country, the winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year. It’s the point when the night is longest, and at its midday peak, the sun reaches the lowest point in the sky. But while in Italy, this technically falls around the 21st December each year, many Italians still mistakenly believe the shortest day of the year is December 13th – St.Lucy’s Day.

The popular saying “santa Lucia il giorno più corto che ci sia” is mostly to blame – “Saint Lucy’s is the shortest day”. While St.Lucy’s Day was indeed the date of the Winter Solstice when Italy was using the Julian calendar, since the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in line with the rest of Europe, the shortest day actually moved to December 21st, meaning the thousands of people still using the expression in Italy are technically wrong.

Luckily, should anyone be caught misusing the saying, there’s a quick comeback they can use to recover. It may not be the shortest day of the year, but St.Lucy’s Day still has one of the earliest sunsets at 4.39pm, making the day very much feel like one of the shortest.