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Feast of Rificolona

This friday in Florence there will be the "rificolona": an historical event made for kids. Children wander through the streets of Florence carrying papier-mâché lanterns tied to the ends of sticks, called rificolone.

More probably the Festa della Rificolona grew out of the great fall market held September 7 (the day before the Nativity of the Virgin) in Piazza Santissima Annunziata. It was perhaps the most important market-day of the year, because it allowed the farmers to gather cash for the coming winter. To arrive early those living in the outlying regions would shoulder their packs long before dawn and carry lanterns, made by suspending candles within tissue-paper wind-shades, to light their way. Entire families would come, dressed in their Sunday best, but they were ignorant county folk and their attempts at elegance only made the city people laugh (Florentines still call an overdressed, over made-up woman a rificolona). Children would blow whistles at them, and make their own lanterns with colored tissue paper to follow along, or shoot at the farmers' lanterns with blowguns, in an attempt to knock over the candles and set the tissue paper ablaze.

The Festa della Rificolona closes with a procession on the night of the 7th, from Piazza Santa Croce to Piazza Santissima Annunziata, which is led by the Cardinal.
Various Rificolona laboratories are organised by the City Wards to help keep up the lantern making tradition.

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