The Ferragosto festival is a Catholic holiday that takes place in Italy. It’s celebrated on the 15th of August, and it marks the end of summer. This day has been observed for centuries by the Catholic church worldwide as a religious feast day to honor the blessed virgin Mary—mother of Jesus Christ.
There are many traditions and customs associated with this holiday that has developed over time. For example, some people will participate in pilgrimages or church processions, while others might attend masses or other special services at their local church.
Others may choose to spend time with family members or friends they don’t see enough during the year because they live far away from each other. They may also enjoy picnics together, play games such as bocce ball, go swimming, eat ice cream cones or drink wine together.
Keep reading to find out more about this festival that honors Italians’ favorite Catholic saint!
What is Ferragosto?
The assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a Christian feast day celebrating the bodily assumption into heaven of the Virgin Mary. It’s one of nine holy days in honor of Jesus’ mother. This national holiday is also known as “The Feast Of The Assumption” or “Our Lady’s Day.”
Catholics believe that after her death, she was carried up to heaven by angels. She has been given many titles over time, including Queen Of Heaven, Our Lady Of Sorrows, and Mother Of God. On this day, the Catholic Church remembers all that she did for Christians while on earth and celebrates her life with prayer and song.
The History of Assumption Day in Italy
The history of the Ferragosto festival dates back to ancient Rome when it was celebrated as one of the most important holidays on the Roman calendar. It became a Christian holiday during the middle ages and has been observed by Catholics ever since.
The Roman emperor Caesar Augustus (Octavian), the first Roman Emperor, held the very first iteration of Ferragosto in 18 BCE. The date commemorates his victory over Marc Antony at Actium—in which he won a battle that killed Marcus Antonius’ forces and secured control over Rome and its territories all across Europe.
During this time, emperor Augustus introduced Feriae Augusti that connected all ancient Roman festivals that fell in August. Feriae Augusti provided an extended period of rest after harvest—a season of intense agricultural activities.
In the 1920s, the Fascist regime introduced a tradition of taking trips during Ferragosto, which included organizing hundreds of excursions through their recreational organizations.
They even set up the “People’s Trains” where less affluent people could visit Italian cities or spend time at the seaside for discounted prices, giving them greater access to explore more than ever before in Italy. This tradition has been upheld for centuries.
12 Italian Phrases in Celebration of Ferragosto
If you’re looking for a way to celebrate Ferragosto, this is the time to learn some Italian phrases that will help you better understand the culture. You’ll be able to impress your friends with these phrases and show them how much you know about Italy. It’s also a great way to practice your pronunciation skills.
|In ferie||It relates to being on vacation, especially Ferragosto or any other religious or national holiday.|
|Fare un tuffo||Taking a dip, especially in the ocean, pool, or lake|
|Fa Caldo!||It’s hot!|
|Andare in spiaggia||Going to the beach|
|Andare in piscina||Going to the pool|
|Andare al lago||Going to the lake|
|Organizzare un picnic||To organize a picnic|
|Farsi una Grigliata||Barbecue. Example in sentence: ci facciamo una grigliata (Let’s make a barbecue!)|
|Cestino da picnic||Refers to a picnic basket|
|Fare un falò||Bonfire|
|Vedere i fuochi d’artificio||Watching fireworks|
|Bagno di mezzanotte||Midnight swim|
Italian Customs and Traditions on Assumption Day
The main tradition during Assumption Day is going on road trips. You’ll notice that cities are deserted when you’re in Rome or Florence over this period as locals flee with their families for an extra vacation away from work. Some take off for weekend getaways while others escape into seclusion at beautiful beaches all month long.
In some towns, the celebration begins on August 14th with an evening vigil service followed by a procession through the city carrying statues or pictures of Mary and other saints from church to church while prayers are sung in honor of these saints.
The following day there will be another procession that includes people dressed as angels who carry flowers and candles for their patron saint while singing hymns in praise to Mary.
There will also be processions where children dress up as devils and parade around town banging drums, blowing whistles, ringing bells, etc., until they reach a designated spot where they throw eggs at each other before running away laughing hysterically.
In other towns, there is even a tradition called “La Festa dei Morti,” which means “The Festival of the Dead.” People go door-to-door asking for food such as bread or cheese so that they can feed their dead relatives during this time when spirits roam freely.
The Palio dell’Assunta is another ancient tradition that takes place in Siena, Italy. This is a significant horse race event that coincides with Ferragosto and takes place on 16th August every year.
The event features a competitive race between teams made up of nine riders, each from different neighborhoods in town competing for glory and prestige with their clans’ flags waving high above them as they ride through central Piazza del Campo to cheers galore.
Generally, during Ferragosto, Italians will go to church for Mass and then celebrate with family and friends. They may eat traditional dishes like pasta con pesto alla Genovese, antipasti misti, risotto al pomodoro, melanzane parmigiana e polenta fritta; drink wine; enjoy gelato; watch fireworks displays or take part in processions.
To experience the taste of Italian customs and traditions during Ferragosto, watch the film Pranzo di Ferragosto (Mid-August Lunch).
This hilarious film tells the story of a middle-aged man, Gianni, who lives in an old house in Rome with his mother. As the Feast of the Assumption Day approaches, Gianni’s apartment manager offers him a deal. In return for not paying his unpaid bills, he can look after his mother and old aunt.
Popular Ferragosto Festivals And Other Things to do in Italy During Fascism
Across Italy on August 15th, you’ll find celebrations all over. These often include food, music, fireworks, or parades. Below are some of the famous Roman festivals you will find all over Italy on this day.
- At Castel Gandolfo, there’s an evening concert with opera singers and ballet dancers and famous Italian musical artists like Vasco Rossi (a must-see in his hometown).
- Near Vesuvius, where he once lived, is Mussolini Square which will be illuminated by hundreds of torches held up to make it look like daylight again — this celebration was established after World War II when Italians were struggling without electricity.
- The live dance performances at the Gran Ballo di Ferragosto in Rome are a spectacle. With different types of dances going on simultaneously, it’s hard to know where to look first! In recent years this event has grown into one that Roman locals and tourists alike eagerly anticipate each year, with people coming from all over Italy just for the opportunity to participate or watch as tradition is honored by both groups together.
- The Diano Marina in Liguria hosts an annual festival of the sea on this day with fireworks. People come from all over to watch as they celebrate life on the water and have fun at this spectacular event!
- Montepulciano, a small town in Italy, holds an annual event that includes games and celebrations.
- In the town of Cappelle sul Tavo, near Pescara on the Abruzzo coast, you will find a spectacle of fireworks and illuminated floats, an event called the Palio delle Pupe. This annual event celebrates ancient traditions with dazzling pyrotechnics that are sure to delight any audience member.
- You’ll feel a sense of calm when you visit Sassari. For centuries the locals have celebrated the Festa dei Candelieri festival on August 14 and 15 with races that involve teams bearing giant candles to mark this joyful occasion.
You might think that Ferragosto is just one day, but Italians know better. It’s a month-long celebration of vacations and family time–especially before the summer ends in September. You’ll see most Italian businesses with “Chiuso Per Ferie” written on their doors – this means they’re closed for vacation.
If you’re traveling to Italy this summer, be sure to pack your sunscreen and water. The weather can get quite hot so try not to spend too much time outside. Be flexible when you travel; if there are specific places that you want to visit, make sure they’ll still be open during those dates.
Rome is one of the most popular and beautiful places to visit. Unfortunately, it can be tricky to navigate during Ferragosto due to many tourists trying to experience this fantastic city at once. But with some research and proper planning, you could have an incredible time exploring Rome when there are fewer people around – making your trip truly memorable.
Explore Rome on your terms by trying out one-of-a-kind dishes from street vendors or go on wine tours outside more crowded areas. From the most famous sites like the Colosseum to offbeat restaurants—there is so much for you to see and do in this historic city that it will feel as if all of its beauty belongs just to you!