Rome celebrates 2,774th birthday in 2021

Rome's birthday celebrations for Natale di Roma move online for the second year due to covid-19.

Rome celebrates its 2,774th birthday on 21 April 2021. Known as Natale di Roma, the annual birthday celebration is based on the legendary founding of Rome by Romulus in 753 BC.

Traditionally the celebrations include historical re-enactments such as costumed parades and gladiator fights however in 2021, for the second year in a row, events will be moved online due to Italy's covid-19 restrictions.

Events are usually centred in the Circus Maximus and include gladiator fights and the trench-digging ritual, known as the tracciato del solco, which recalls the founding of ancient Roman towns when a trench or mundus was dug and offerings thrown into it to encourage the gods to watch over the inhabitants.

Other re-enactments include the agricultural Palilia ceremony. Dating back to before the founding of Rome, the ceremony was held in honour of the goddess Pales, protector of flocks and herds, and involved vestal virgins distributing straw and the ashes and blood of sacrificed animals before jumping over a bonfire three times.

The highlight of the Natale di Roma festivites, the grand parade, usually includes more than 1,500 costumed participants processing to and from the Circus Maximus, via the Colosseum.

The pageant is organised by the Gruppo Storico Romano, an historical dramatic society which, for more than 20 years, has brought history to life by re-enacting battles, historic events, and displays of ancient theatre and dance in the city centre.

Photo credit: Corina Daniela Obertas / Shutterstock.com

Under the slogan "We won't give up," this year the group's re-enactments will be streamed on Sunday 18 April from Italy's National Etruscan Museum at Villa Giulia.

The online programme of events, dedicated to Emperor Nero, will begin at 14.00 and conclude with gladiator fights live from Villa Giulia.

The historical re-enactments can be watched via the Gruppo Storico Romano  Facebook page.

Last year the city of Rome also organised some online events to mark Natale di Roma. We will update this article accordingly if and when there is news on that front.