In need of work-life balance inspiration? Look no further than Italian culture! Italians have perfected the art of leisure over millennia ago with the celebration of Ferragosto, the first festivals dating back as early as 18 BCE.
History of Ferragosto
Formerly known as Feria Augusti, Ferragosto was a series of festivals and holidays in celebration of Emperor Augustus and introduced in the year 18 BCE. It was celebrated in addition to several holidays in the month of August, including Vinalia Rustica and Consualia, which celebrated the gathering of harvests and the end of the long & intense agricultural labor season. These holidays and festivals promoted rest and relaxation, while horse races were organized, and beasts of burden (think oxen, donkeys, and the like) were released from their work duties and adorned in flowers.
A major Feast Day and Holy Day of Obligation, The Assumption of Mary into Heaven (commonly shortened to The Assumption) is also celebrated on August 15th. When observed, faithful congregants are expected to attend Mass, as well as taking the day to rest from work and recreation.
Modern-Day Ferragosto Traditions
Travel and tourism to the coastal regions of Italy arose in the early 20th century, circa the 1920s. Vouchers and travel specials organized by the regime of the time were promoted to give working-class families the opportunity to visit different parts of the country. While most municipal services are shutdown during the weekend of Ferragosto, many museums and cultural sites remain open for travelers to visit major attractions and explore the wondrous beauty of Italy, as well as taking in the history of the different regions.
Throughout history, the common thread for celebrating Ferragosto has been (and will always be!) rest and relaxation earned in return for hard, honest work, along with recreational reprieve from the summer heat.
In true Italian fashion, you too can celebrate Ferragosto from home with a refreshing glass of Aperol Spritz - the preferred drink of leisurely summer travelers. First created in Padua in 1919, Aperol Spritz is a simple, yet sophisticated aperitif enjoyed by Italians and Italophiles, alike.
2 oz of Prosecco
1 Orange slice (Blood Orange, if you can find one)
Splash of soda water of your choice
Simply fill a wine glass or highball tumbler with ice, add Campari first, followed by prosecco, and top it off with a splash of soda water.