Ferragosto – what is that?

(German version – versione tedesca)

If you have ever been to Italy in August, or if you have Italian customers or suppliers, or if you work in tourism and have something to do with Italy/Italians/the Italian market, or if you are learning Italian…

… you might have heard about Ferragosto!

Ferragosto is the Italian name for the bank holiday on the 15th August. Although the current reason for the day being a holiday is Christian/Catholic (the Assumption of Mary), the roots of this public holiday are “Pagan”, or at least secular (Feriae Augusti, festival of Emperor August).

The day used to mark the culmination of the summer holiday season. Even Italians who are not on holiday usually plan something like una grigliata (a grill party), una gita (a trip), or anything else to enjoy the day.

Cities, towns, and villages still organize several things to do – feasts, fairs, markets…

Italians traditionally went on holiday en masse in August because most factories in former “industrial power” (potenza industriale, major industrial country per output and major industrialised country) Italy used to close for weeks. It made no sense to work if customers and suppliers were closed, and it made no sense to have families split – some members on holiday, some others at work.

Since things are changing, you might now find a few people at work (willing to go on holiday when things are cheaper and places are not as overcrowded), and many people still at home with no plans whatsoever (bored by traditions, or unable to afford anything else).

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