Why do Italians celebrate Ferragosto?
Every year in Italy Ferragosto is celebrated on the 15th of August to celebrate the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into Heaven. It is a joyous Roman Catholic holiday, but was not initially celebrated through the church. Before it was celebrated as a Roman Catholic holiday, this day was introduced in 18 BC most likely to celebrate a great Italian battle victory. This celebration was combined with fun summer festivals linked to the Augustali period which was a period intended for rest after months of hard labor. The festivities were created for political reasons and then the Catholic Church decided to move the day to August 15th, allowing Italians to celebrate both the Assumption of Mary as well as the festivities. Ferragosto was also used by Mussolini to give lower classes the chance to visit cultural cities or to travel to the seaside for a few days of vacation!
Today, the holiday combines ancient Roman and Catholic roots with the start of Italy’s summer holiday season!