Friday, August 15, 2008
Buon Ferragosto: Evolution of a Feast Day
Today is a feast day, no matter how you look at it. The people of the Roman Empire (yes, those who have determined how wide our railroad tracks are, which roads we travel, and the size of Space Shuttle booster rockets) celebrated this day, August 15, as a feast day to honor the goddess Diana. Diana was the goddess of fertility, and she seemed a natural choice to have as its patron after a long time in the harvest fields.
August derives it's name from Augustus Caesar, the Caesar we Judeo-Christians all know and love! It seems that Augustus, being the man about town, decided to declare this feast in his own honor and to expand it into a month long Toga Party! Thus it's Roman name became, "Feriae Augusti" (The Fairs of Augustus). From the Latin name "Feriae Augusti" comes the present day Italian name of the holiday, "Buon Ferragosto".
Buon Ferragosto is still celebrated on this day in Italy, much like we Americans celebrate the 4th of July, by having barbeque's and going to the beach (or any water source where you can scantily clothe yourself will do). It seems that the Italian government has discovered that by not having the resources of Augustus, a month long holiday is not good for the economy, thus it has been shortened to one day.
At least in Italy the holiday remains intact in its original Toga Party form because a few centuries after Augustus, the Catholic Church came rolling into town devouring all pagan holidays and turning them into Church Feast Days, of which, Buon Ferragosto, has become a "Holy Day of Obligation" in celebration of the Assumption of Mary into heaven. Mary seemed an obvious choice, since the original Patron of this ancient feast was a female deity, something that Mary has become, even though the Church does not call her so, nor will they ordain women, etc., but I deviate from my original "Party Platform".
So there you have it! A feast day to celebrate fertility (one of my favorite activities), ancient history (one of my favorite subjects), partying (what I live for), taking a day off from work (haven't thought about that for today until now), and going to Church (something I will do today). It only makes perfect sense that the "Evolution" (to use a spiritually nasty but yet scientifically logical word) of this Feast Day continue. As a founding father of the Knights of Moleskine, Spirit and Ale...I declare this an official KMSA Feast Day to be know as:
BON FERRACONMUCHOCUSTO! (Kind of like mixing Teguila with Peroni)
Sir Hook the "Ferraconmuchogusto Meister" of Warrick
Posted by dkWells