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*The Ferragosto festival in the Bronx isn't your average festival.  This Little Italy's celebration is a cultural event that can be fun for the entire family,  This feast is packed with Italian pride and displays a true love of community and fellowship that is hardly ever present in a street fair in a city of this size.*



*The first thing that anybody thinks of when they think of an Italian fair is the food and this fair is has everything a connoisseur could want:  fresh grilled sausage, pinwheels, and roast suckling pig, and many other Italian specialty food products like fresh zeppole, for which people are willing to wait in line to taste.*


*The majority of the street vendors at this event are actually neighborhood businesses. Restaurants set up tables outside so patrons can dine al fresco.  there is always plenty of activity over at Cosenza’s Fish Market, as wellm where people can enjoy raw seafood specialties.  And for the people who want an inside dining experience, Ann & Tony's is always happy to oblige.*


*People who are interested something light, however, have plenty of opportunities to find free samples from a number of businesses:  Palombo’s generally has a 20-minute line with enthusiastic customers that are more than happy to enjoy a refreshing homemade Italian Ice; Cerini Coffee and Gifts  give out free espressos and the staff at Teitel Brothers hand out samples of Parmiggiano-Reggiano, imported Italian olives, and fresh mozzarella.* 


*A huge feast was really at the hands of all who wanted to partake. On one end of the feast the pleasant staff at Ann & Tony’s was warmly welcoming diners indoors throughout the day. While on the other end of the festival, Rigoletto’s offered outdoor dining and music. And in between, was everyone from Artuso’s Pastry, Umberto’s, Gina’s, Enzo’s, Calandra, La Cantina, and many more.*


*Entertainment is available almost everywhere you turn with live performances. Children of all ages are excited to discover free professional face painting, and it is difficult to be at the festival without noticing the entertaining talents of the Commedia dell’arte Players, who are actors dressed in full costumes, portraying 16th century characters.*


But WHY is this day such a big deal, you may ask.  What IS Ferragosto, anyways?


**One of the most important holidays to Catholics is called Ferragosto (Assumption Day).  Ferragosto, August 15, is the day that the Virgin Mary was sent to Heaven.  This holiday, as many Catholic holidays, have Pagan roots:**


**Back in 18 BC, it was declared that the entire month of August would be dedicated to the Feriae Augusti by the Roman Emperor Augustus, which were a number of festivals and celebrations.  August 13th was the most important, and celebrated Diana, who was the Goddess who oversaw the woods, the phases of the Moon, and Maternity. The services took place in her temple on the Aventine and were one of the rare instances when all Romans (from royals to peasants) interacted with one another while the women offered prayers to Lucina, the guise Diana assumed when she was acting as protector of Labor.**


**In addition to Diana, the Feriae Augusti celebrated Vortumnus, God of the Seasons, who watched over the crops, Conso, God of the Harvest, and Opeconsiva, who represented the abundant harvest. This celebration, in short, was of fertility and maternity.**


**When Christianity came to pass, followers looked to the Virgin for help in these matters and began to celebrate Her in August in the church in Jerusalem that was said to be Her final resting place.  This spread through the rest of the Empire under Mauritius in the late 500s and then by the 18th century, the joint belief was that Mary was sent to Heavon on Ferragosto.**  


**Finally, in 1950, this was formally proclaimed to be true by Pope Pius XII.**


 *The businesses in this area are very proud of their heritage and the products and services that they offer. Ferragosto visitors should be aware that the quality of food, and attention received from the vendors during this Ferragosto celebration is a small gesture compared to the way they welcome customers during a normal work day.  this may be the reason why visitors travel from all over New York State, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut to partake in the festivities.*