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For other uses, see Sylvester (disambiguation).
Pope Sylvester I
Countries where Silvester is celebrated
Silvester fireworks in Kraków

Silvester (also spelled sylvester, szilveszter, or sylwester) is the day of the Feast of Pope Sylvester I, a saint who served as Pope of the Catholic Church from 314 to 335 and oversaw both the First Council of Nicaea and Roman Emperor Constantine I's conversion to Christianity.[1] The feast day is held on the anniversary of Sylvester's death, 31 December, a date that, since the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, has coincided with New Year's Eve. Eastern Orthodox Churches celebrate Sylvester's feast day on 2 January.


Because of this coincidence, several countries, primarily in Europe, use a variant of Silvester's name as the preferred name for the holiday; these countries include Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland, and Slovenia.[2]

In Israel, there is a belief among some that conflates the Slavic tradition of Novy God with this feast day, contributing to the belief that it is a celebration of an anti-Semitic pope who convinced Constantine to prohibit Jews from living in Jerusalem and promoted anti-Semitic legislation. A possible source of this belief is the fact that the feast day was known by many immigrants from Europe who came to the country around the time it became a Jewish state.[2]


  1. ^ A History of New Years
  2. ^ a b Cohen, Ariel (31 December 2014). "Celebrating an anti-Semitic pope on Sylvester". Jerusalem Post. Archived from the original on 31 December 2014. Retrieved 31 December 2014. 

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Silvester at Wikimedia Commons