FERRAGOSTO IN ITALY: ORIGIN AND TRADITION
Ferragosto Day in Italy
Closed schools, empty cities, crowded beaches, shutters with the words “We are on vacation”: this is the typical scenario in August in Italy, a month of rest.
Everywhere in Italy, August is a vacation month and therefore also rich in “sagre”, village festivals.
The 15th of this month in particular, Ferragosto is celebrated, the summer festival par excellence. It is the only summer holiday in Italy and we like to spend it in company.
The most anticipated summer festival has its origins in the history of ancient Rome and is then intertwined with the Catholic tradition.
Ferragosto is both a religious and a pagan holiday.
The term is derived from the Latin phrase Feriae Augusti (Augustus Quiet). This indicates a holiday that Emperor Augustus 18 BC. introduced.
In ancient Rome this was dedicated to Conso, the Roman divinity of the earth and fertility.
The end of the agricultural work was celebrated and, together with other Augustan festivals, a reasonable rest period (also called Augustali) was granted after the great efforts in the fields.
In ancient Rome it was a day full of events. The animals were released from work and decorated, horse races organized.
The “Palio dell’Assunta”, which takes place in Siena on August 16th, is a largely unchanged reminder of this old tradition.
This celebration originally took place on August 1st.
However, a pagan festival became a Catholic festival. The Catholic Church celebrated this anniversary and from the seventh century the Assumption was celebrated on August 15th.
The change in date is due to the Catholic Church, which wanted the lay day to coincide with the religious feast of the Assumption.
The dogma of the Ascension (only recognized as such in 1950) stipulates that the Virgin Mary was taken up to heaven with both her soul and her body.
The popular tradition of the Ferragosto excursion originated in the fascist era.
At that time, the regime gave less wealthy social classes the opportunity to reach art cities, coastal or mountain areas at greatly reduced prices thanks to the establishment of the “public Ferragosto trains”.
Ferragosto in Italy means bonfire on the beach, barbecues, city trips, midnight swimming and themed evenings.
In Italy and for all Italians, Ferragosto remains a day to celebrate.