Happy Cocomerata! Watermelon has been a popular and refreshing treat during the heat of Ferragosto since Ancient Roman times
When is Ferragosto?
How long until Ferragosto?
|This holiday is today!|
Dates of Ferragosto
|Ferragosto is a popular summer holiday in Italy that marks the Feast of the Assumption but has its roots in Ancient Rome|
|Feast of the Assumption|
Ferragosto is a national public holiday in Italy always celebrated on 15th August despite which day of the week it falls on.
It is a popular holiday and is celebrated on the Feast of the Assumption which commemorates Mary's assumption to heaven, where Roman Catholic belief says that at the end of her life on earth Mary was assumed, body and soul, into heaven.
History of Ferragosto
In a Catholic country such as Italy, the Feast of the Assumption would be a notable event and indeed Assumption is a public holiday in many countries around the world on 15th August.
However, the traditions of Ferragosto go further back in time to Ancient Rome and was a holiday long before 15th August gained its Christian religious significance.
Ferragosto comes from the Latin 'feriae Augusti' (the festivals of the Emperor Augustus), in honour of Octavian Augustus, the first Roman emperor, who also gave his name to the month of August.
It was first introduced in 18 BC as part of the longer Augustali period of rest that marked the end of the harvest as well as to celebrate Augustus' victory in key battles of the time. 15th August was also the feast day of the goddess Diana, who had no less than 13 days dedicated to her during this period.
As the Roman Empire turned to Christianity, this pagan holiday was adopted and converted into a holiday for the Assumption, the day the Virgin Mary was received in heaven.
Ferragosto became a modern holiday during the Fascist regime of Mussolini. Attracted to its Imperial Roman origins, Mussolini declared it as a national holiday as part of efforts to forge a national identity for Italy. During the time of Fascist rule, the regime would organise trips with special offers during Ferragosto. The intention being that the less wealthy social classes would get the opportunity to visit a different part of the country. The tradition of trips and holidays starting on 15th August became part of culture and outlasted Mussolini's reign.
How is Ferragosto Celebrated?
Today, Ferragosto is the most important day of summer in Italy. It celebrates the middle of the Italian summer and marks the unofficial start of Italy's summer holiday season. Italy effectively shuts down until the start of September as schools and businesses close for the summer break and many people take a trip to the countryside, lakes or the coast to escape from the stifling heat of the cities.
As 15th August is a national holiday, all government offices, post offices, banks and educational institutions will be closed. As the holiday falls in the height of the tourist season, most museums, tourist attractions and cultural sites will stay open on Ferragosto.