Feast of Saint Januarius
Those fortunate enough to be in Naples on Saint Januarius Day (19 September) should head to the Chapel of San Gennaro to witness the truly mystifying - and quintessentially Neapolitan - event known as the 'Miracle of the Blood'. Massive crowds gather to watch as the archbishop brings forth an ampoule containing the dried, congealed blood of the martyred Saint Januarius - and then all begin to pray fervently for the blood to miraculously re-liquefy. Local lore has it that when this miracle does not occur, tragedy will befall Naples - and historians point to events such as a plague in 1597 and an earthquake in 1980 that seem to bear this superstition out. The subject of quite a lot of scientific scrutiny - and as yet, no definitive conclusions - the Miracle of the Blood is certainly an interesting cultural phenomenon, if nothing else, and a wonderful way to engage with the very heart and soul of Neapolitan culture. The ceremony even had quite a profound effect on German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who was moved to open his treatise The Gay Science with a poem called "Sanctus Januarius".
Date: 19 September annually