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The millenary origin of the ferragosto

Yesterday was celebrated one of the most important and beloved dates for the italians. Empty streets, closed shops and thousands of people exiled to beaches and mountains ―if there was no global pandemic, of course―. Everyone enjoying a day in which, they say, not even God works. But did you know that the true origin of the ferragosto dates back to thousands of years ago?

Precisely from this term we get the word “ferragosto”. In the time of the emperor Augustus, the Feriae Augusti were a whole set of celebrations that took place throughout the month of August (beginning with the cult of the temple of Mars the Avenger and finishing whit the Mundus Patens dedicated to the to the infernal gods and the dead), although today the ferragosto is only celebrated on August 15. To not go too extensively, let’s meet the most important festivities.

Consacrated to Consus, god closely related to agriculture, on the occasion of the end of the harvest season. The celebration was held in an underground temple, which remained covered except for this day, and on an altar that was transported from the inside of the temple to the surface of it. In the same way, animals such as donkeys, and horses were exempt from work and the streets were filled with flowers.

Just like whit Cnosus, this is an agrarian feast, because, like every mother goddess, she was bound to nature and the harvests. The Flamen Quirinalis (Priest of Quirino) and the vestal virgins (consecrated to the Roman goddess Vesta) were in charge of leading the celebration. Horse races were held and the pack animal were decorated as a token of gratitude. Time later, the goddess Ops was associated with christianity for having a child without losing her virginity.

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