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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Italy Series at ItalianPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Italian holidays and observances. I’m Becky, and you're listening to Season 1 Lesson 13, The Assumption.
Have you ever happened to find yourself in Italy on August 15? This day is the festival of the Assumption of Mary - that is, the day when, according to the Catholic religion, we celebrate the passage of Mary, the Madonna, from Earth to Heaven. August 15 is a public holiday in Italy and is also known as the mid-August holiday Ferragosto.
In this lesson we’ll see how Italians spend this day.
Now, before we go into more detail, we’ve got a question for you- Do you know how most Italian guys celebrate Ferragosto?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
The Assumption of Mary is a Catholic holiday, but its origins are Roman, as suggested by the name Ferragosto. In Latin this means “resting of Augustus” and signifies a feast that was held by the Emperor Augustus. One can say that in Italy today both Roman and Catholic traditions are still present, but nevertheless changes have occurred since the feast’s origin.
For example, the festivities that take place in Trappeto – a small Sicilian village – are linked to the Catholic tradition. Every year, on August 15, a statue of the Madonna is put on a boat and sailed along the entire coastline of the country as believers follow the procession.
Other customs have a pagan origin, such as horse racing. One of the most famous races is the “Palio of Siena.”
Lastly we can say that on this day, wherever they are, Italians like to meet their friends to celebrate the summer and go outdoors to eat together, especially by organizing picnics where they barbecue tons of meat and vegetables and consume large amounts of watermelon.
In addition, the resort areas always organize entertaining events, such as the Greasy Pole or albero della cuccagna. Culinary delicacies are strung on top of a pole to serve as the prize for the person who is able to climb the pole fastest, but it’s not as simple as it sounds- the pole is greased!
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
Do you know how most Italian guys celebrate Ferragosto? Groups of friends get together on the evening of August 14 and go to the beach. At midnight, the custom is to take a dip together.
Well listeners, how was this lesson? Did you learn something new?
Is there a midsummer festival in your country?
Please leave a comment telling us at ItalianPod101.com.
See you next time!