The 15th of August is “Ferragosto”. A sacred or profane celebration? This year m this holiday is today, on a Monday. Read more to discover whether this is a religious celebration or not! Come and visit the eternal city and take one of our TOURS. Come and see for yourself if the 15th of August, “Ferragosto” is a sacred or profane celebration?
15th of August, a sacred celebration
The 15th of August is a sacred celebration for the Church. The Catholic Church has designated the feast day of 15th of August as the date of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. This is the direct passage, body and soul, of the mother of Jesus into heaven at the end of her earthly life. On this day, the Orthodox Church celebrates “Mary’s Dormition”. They believe that the Virgin did not die, but fell into a deep sleep (“dormire” in Italian) before being assumed into heaven. On the other hand, Protestants do not believe in the assumption at all. Therefore, originally at least, it was a true religious holiday in the heart of summer marked in red on the calendar.
15th of August, the Holidays of Augustus
However, the story of the 15th of August has also a secular aspect…. Once again, is the 15th of August, “Ferragosto” a sacred or profane celebration? The story goes back further than you can imagine!! The term “Ferragosto” comes from Latin. If the month of August is named after the emperor Augustus, the same applies to this celebration, which derives from the term “feriae Augusti”, a holiday (“ferie” in Italian means holiday, break) also instituted by Augustus in 18 BC.
Augustus had institutionalised festivities, naming them the “augustals”, that already existed at this time of year in previous centuries.
The Augustan holidays, feriae Augusti, were therefore a period of rest after agricultural activity. This period included games and festivities with animals, including working animals, and horse races. They lasted for most of August.
Therefore, the 15th of August, “Ferragosto” is both a sacred and a profane celebration in Italy. Tradition here includes both types of celebrations; going to the daily mass but also going out of town (to the beach or anywhere else and have the traditional “pranzo di Ferragosto”. This tradition originated in the fascist era with the popular Ferragosto trains. At the time, on the days around 15 August, there were reduced fares for people travelling by train. This has boosted the tradition of going outdoors and celebrating the day!
Come and visit the eternal city and take one of our TOURS. Come and see for yourself if the 15th of August is “Ferragosto” is a sacred or profane celebration in Rome!!!