Vacation. Family. Beach and Eating.
These are my buzzwords for Ferragosto, one of my favorite Italian holidays that has always held a special place in my heart. Every year, the whole country of Italy takes off August 15th and heads to the beach, the mountains or just relaxes and enjoys a good meal.
Being completely unknown outside of Italy (and Italian-Switzerland), you must be asking yourself what IS Ferragosto?! So here is a brief history to bring you up to speed.
The word comes from the latin Feriae Augusti meaning “the holidays of Augustus”, referring to the emperor himself. It was set up as a holiday to celebrate the end of the harvest which was marked by a relief from extreme physical labor that comes with agricultural life. Eventually, Ferragosto was extended to take up most of the month. It wasn’t until the Fascist regime of Benito Mussolini that people began planning longer vacation trips during the Mid-August holiday. This acted as a way for Mussolini to push members of higher society to take trips to other Italian cities or visit seaside resorts.
With globalization the world has experienced some great advances, but it has a caused a shrinkage of the holiday to keep up with competing economies around the world (although us Italians still like taking a nice long holiday in August if we can manage!) who don’t take the whole month off.
But to me, the holiday is much more than its history and trying to compete with rival, world economies. To me it represents a mandated summer day to spend with family and go to the beach. You see all your friends out doing the same thing, and it represents Italy to its core. Italians do things the way that we want, and for this reason, I know that
While it is harder to continue this tradition living in the US (I don’t think my doctor with give me a note for being “Too Italian” to bring into work for missing the day), my girlfriend and I have made a pact to do something special to keep this special day relevant and as a sign of our “Italianness”.
So, take my advice, and try Ferragosto out for yourself. There isn’t a bad thing about it and you definitely won’t regret it!
If you want to celebrate Ferragosto with me, come down to Via Umbria for a Ferragosto-themed movie night. We’ll be watching the classic film Il Sorpasso while enjoying a delicious mid-August pasta dinner.