Italy Establishes National Dante Day

| Tue, 01/28/2020 - 00:00
Portrait of Dante Alighieri

A year ahead of the celebrations for Dante Alighieri’s 700th death anniversary, the Italian government has announced the establishment of a National Dante Day, or Dantedì, to be observed annually on March 25. Why this date? According to scholars, Dante’s journey to Hell, Purgatory and Paradise, which he recounted in his masterpiece, the Divine Comedy began on March 25 (his voyage began during Easter week in the year 1300). 

“Every year on March 25, the date that scholars recognize as the beginning of the journey into the afterlife of the Divine Comedy, Dantedì will be celebrated,” said Italy’s Culture Minister Dario Franceschini. “It will be a day to remember Dante's genius throughout Italy and the world with many initiatives that will see schools, students and cultural institutions involved. There are a lot of projects currently being examined by the committee for the celebrations chaired by Professor Carlo Ossola ahead of the celebrations for Dante’s 700th anniversary. Dante symbolizes many things that hold us together: he is the unity of the country, he is the Italian language, he is the very idea of Italy.”

Among the greatest poets of Italian and world literature, Dante was born in Florence in 1265, and died in exile in Ravenna in 1321. His tomb is still in Ravenna.  It was during exile that Dante composed his greatest work, The Divine Comedy, his vision of the afterlife where references to myth, history and scripture serve to comment on the politics and political figures of his day.