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On Sunday, August 14, from noon to 6 p.m., the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum host its Second Annual Ferragosto Celebration. In keeping with this ancient Italian tradition, the day will feature games and activities for the whole family. Come play bocce and learn to dance the Tarantella. Take a free tour of the museum-in English or Italian. Or celebrate like a real Italian and just chill out-play cards, chat with friends, or take a siesta on a blanket on our lawn. There will be delicious food from various regions of Italy available for sale, as well as a selection of Italian wines for the adults to taste, and some pretty awesome raffles and vendors. Le Nozze di Carlo will play all your favorite Italian songs and our facepainter can turn your face into a piece of whimsical art. Admission is only $1. Parking will be available behind St. Joseph's Parochial School, 171 St. Mary's Avenue, corner of Tompkins Avenue.
After Christmas, Easter and New Year's Eve, Ferragosto is the most popular holiday in Italy, but most Italians don't know that it began in 18 B.C. When Emperor Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus renamed the sixth month of the Roman calendar from Sextilis to Augustus after himself, he declared that month should be dedicated to a series of festivals, or Feriae Augusti (Latin for "Festivals of the Emperor Augustus"), marking the end of summer's labor in the fields and anticipating the harvest to come. It was one of the few occasions in which Romans from all walks of life-masters and slaves alike-mingled freely, eating and drinking with great abandon.
The most important of these celebrations was dedicated to Diana, the goddess whose task it was to oversee the woods and fields, as well as fertility and maternity. With the advent of Christianity, the Roman Catholic Church tried to give the Feriae celebrations a Christian focus, so the 15th of August was designated a Holy Day of Obligation to commemorate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary-the physical elevation of her sinless soul and incorrupt body into Heaven.
But today Ferragosto means fun, food, and games, so come, eat, drink and be merry in the traditional Italian way. It's a great way for the whole family to spend a summer afternoon together.
The Garibaldi-Meucci Museum is owned by the Order Sons of Italy in America.
The Garibaldi-Meucci Museum was the home of Antonio Meucci, the true inventor of the telephone, and a refuge to Giuseppe Garibaldi, the legendary hero who championed the unification of Italy. For over 50 years the museum has fulfilled its mission to preserve the legacies of these great men, and to promote understanding of the Italian-American heritage through cultural, artistic and educational programs and classes.
Regular museum hours are 1 p.m.-5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday. Admission is $5 per person, members and children under 10 are free. Call ahead for groups of 10 or more. The first floor of the museum is wheelchair accessible, however the restroom is on the second floor. At press time, program funding has been provided through the Order Sons of Italy in America; by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; Richmond County Savings Foundation; Northfield Bank Foundation; Coccia Foundation; JP Morgan Chase Regrant in partnership with the Council on the Arts & Humanities for Staten Island (COAHSI) and by grants allocated by New York City Council members Vincent Ignizio and James Oddo.
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