Monaco culture is characterised by the presence of ethnic groups like French, Italian, Monegasque. Out of the total population in Monaco, majority of the people are followers of the Roman Catholic faith. Monaco culture that is found to exist today is influenced by the ethnic tribes present, their tradition and religious belief. Not withstanding its status as a cosmopolitan resort, Monegasque society is based on centuries-old traditions. Immediate and extended family are the basic social units. Marriage is considered an important family event and the divorce rate is low, with less than a quarter of marriages ending in divorce.
There are several traditional festivals and rituals in Monaco. Saint Devote, the patron saint of Monaco, is venerated in a ritual held on 27 January every year. A torchlight procession, a religious ceremony and blessing mark the day that Saint Dévoe is believed to have arrived in Monaco. Other religious rituals and ceremonies are held during Holy Week before Easter, and on the feast days of Saint Roman, 9 August, Saint John, 23 June and Saint Blaise.
The Monegasque government actively supports the arts, cultural institutions, and the humanities through a variety of programs and events. The Prince Pierre Foundation was founded to encourage culture in the letters and the arts, by the creation and awarding of prizes. These awards include the Grand Literary Prize, created in 1951; the Prince Rainier III Prize for Musical Composition, founded in 1960; and the International Contemporary Art Prize, awarded for the first time in 1965.
The Princess Grace Foundation was established in 1964 with the aim of promoting charitable activities and provides support for the Princess Grace Dance Academy. Recent investments in the arts and humanities include the creation of a Cultural and Exhibition Center, which will contain an auditorium and other performance and event areas on the site of the old Centenary Hall. The Monte Carlo Ballet and the Monte Carlo Opera are world-renowned. Since 1892 the Monte Carlo Opera has occupied Garnier Hall, named after its architect, who also designed the Paris Opera House. The Monte Carlo Ballet gained international fame in the 1920s when the choreographer Sergey Diaghilev was based there with his Ballets Russes. Monaco is also home to the International Circus Festival held every February and the International Fireworks held in July.
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