Updated: Jul 8, 2020
Tuesday, June 2nd, the Republic Day is celebrated in the Italian peninsula and in all the Italian communities across the globe. The Republic Day represents one of the most important anniversaries of the country, established to remember the Referendum which, after the fall of fascism, sanctioned the historic passage of Italy from the monarchy to the current Republican system.
Historically, on the 2nd and the 3rd of June 1946, the institutional Referendum was held with which the Italians were invited to decide which form of government they wanted to give to the nation after the end of the second world war: monarchy or republic? It was the first time in Italy that a vote was held by universal suffrage, actively involving all citizens who had reached the age of majority -at the time 21 years.
The “Republic won” with 12,718,641 votes in favour, against the 10,718,502 preferences expressed for the monarchy. The results of the referendum were communicated on June 10, 1946, by the Court of Cassation, which however waited on June 18 to officially proclaim the birth of the Italian Republic. The decision definitively brought down the curtain on the Kingdom of Italy, which for 85 years had been ruled by the Savoy royal family.
Much changed since 1946, but the essence of today’s Italian national holiday is still the same. National military parades, delicious homemade food, and flags outside the windows can be seen from everywhere in the country.
Giulia, a 29-year-old Italian girl based in Leicester says: "This day makes me feel less alone, part of something. Even if I work in the UK, this is the anniversary that I feel the most. If I think of the Tricolour (the name of the Italian flag) and I see the beautiful ideals written in the Constitution: the fight against inequalities, anti-racism, the partisan sentiment".
Chiara, 35, who works in London but is originally from Milan, interviewed by Urban Kapital says: "June 2nd? I experience it as an opportunity to remember the importance of being part of something. Even if I cannot celebrate Republic Day with my family, I keep thinking of the importance of it… its value is to make us unite. I like to think of myself as a citizen of a democratic Republic. We take it for granted, but we shouldn’t. "
Republic Day this year anticipates the end of the lockdown, and many Italians have seen it as a symbolic analogy. Claudia, 53, says this is a restart, as all of us will have to deal with the sense of community necessary to rebuild our country. We cannot escape the sanitary conditions the pandemic is imposing us to keep, but I am optimistic. Perhaps, the world needed a pandemic to become aware of humans’ fragility.
And while Italians have encouraged and “hugged each other” by singing the national hymn during the isolation and displaying flags, Benedetta, 36, based in Nottingham with his family says: “To me ‘Festa Della Repubblica’ is a national holiday that reminds me of how deeply my country changed in 1946. It also makes me think we could still be a monarchy if that Referendum went differently! I don't properly celebrate it, but I will probably feel a bit proud by hanging our beloved Italian flag from my window to express my belonging to Italy, that is, feeling like a citizen, part of a community ".
And while Italy is still trying to stand up again from the Coronavirus pandemic that saw it down on its knees, the anniversary of June 2nd reminds all Italian people of hope.