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Every year on August 15, Italians celebrate. It’s a time when children are on holiday, and families, businesses and, quite frankly, most Italians, pack their bags and head to the Italian coast. But, why all the excitement around a hot day in mid-August?
Because it’s Ferragosto, of course.
Amid the dog days of summer, Ferragosto celebrates the peak of summer, which presents the perfect opportunity to escape the summer heat with one (big) hurrah. Celebrations including concerts, outdoor festivals, trips to the beach, and FOOD with festivities often stretching past just one day.
With this holiday fast-approaching, here’s what you need to know to celebrate like a true Italian.
Dating back centuries, the holiday also traditionally marked the end of harvest season and a time of rest after a long period of tiring agricultural labor. Derived from the Latin “Feriae Augusti” (or, festivals ofAugustus), which included many ancient traditions that are still alive today.
During these celebrations, horse races were organized across the Empire - one of the many traditions that have remained relatively unchanged. Today, Siena fills with locals and visitors to watch “Il Palio” - the historic horse race in the central Piazza del Campo of the medieval Tuscan town. Similarly, Roma comes alive for a city-wide party known as Gran Ballo di Ferragosto, during which every space is dedicated to dancing.
Ferragosto also coincides with the major Catholic feast of theAssumption of Mary, where the Catholic church celebrates the Blessed Virgin Mary’s ascent to heaven after her life on Earth. While its origins date back to pre-Christian times, the Catholic church has still adopted August 15 as Assumption Day.
During this public holiday, Italians will celebrate with religious processions, festivals with live music, parties on the beach and, of course, great food.
Ferragosto is the picture-perfect day away from work. A day where you’re surrounded by friends, loved ones and food—lotsand lotsof food. So, while you may be wondering why anyone would choose to celebrate during the hottest time of the year, the food you’ll find at Ferragosto serves as reason enough.
So, what’s on the menu?
An exciting assortment of olives, cheese, meats and fresh bread.
“Bread salad” mixed with summer seasonal vegetables including heirloom tomatoes, onions, and basil, seasoned with red wine vinegar and an abundant amount of extra virgin olive oil.
Fresh Italian sausage, enjoyed grilled outside and topped with fresh lemon.
Rice-stuffed tomatoes with minced garlic and coarsely torn basil leaves.
While these are only a few of the items you might see on the menu at Ferragosto - let’s be honest, we already know that whatever else you come across will be equally amazing. After all, if you’re going to be in Italy, you better eat like an Italian while you’re there.
Although it’s no new information that Italians head to the coast in the summer - on Ferragosto, essentially the entire area slaps a sign outside their store window: “Closed.” If you’re planning on heading to Italy around the 15th (and, especially if you’re setting sail to the Italian islands like Sardinia, Sicily or Capri), prepare yourself for closed shops and crowded beaches.
Ferragosto is a time for generations to come together and eat and party all day into the night hours. A holiday where everyone is welcome.
So, last but not least - join in!
This holiday is just as much a part of daily life today as it has been for the last two millennia. No matter where you are—whether it be the Italian coast or still in the states—you have everything you need to celebrate in true, Italian spirit.
Hosting a get-together for Ferragosto? Check outour website for an assortment of foods perfect for the occasion!