Assumption Day, known locally under the names of Ferragosto or Assunzione, is celebrated on August 15 of every year.
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It is an extremely important holiday, not only in Italy, but in all lands where the Roman Catholic faith is predominant. However, in Italy, the holiday takes on a special significance, with many unique features that are commonplace only in that land.
The holiday itself, like many others, has its origins in Pagan religious tradition. It was first observed in honor of the goddess Isis of the Sea on her mythical birthday. However, it was ultimately made a part of the Christian observance, and has functioned ever since as one of the most holy days of this religion.
The purpose of Assumption Day is to mark the day that the Blessed Mary, Mother of God, left her earthly body behind in order to ascend to Heaven. According to tradition, as Mary was unlike all other mortal women who have ever lived, she did not have to endure the normal mode of death. Instead, she was taken to Heaven in a perfect, painless transition. This event has been a core belief of the Roman Catholic Church since the days of the Roman Empire.
As noted above, the holiday is very common throughout all lands where the Roman Catholic Church forms a central part of the culture. However, there are many customs observed on this day which are unique to Italy. For example, many cities in Italy hold special festivals where there is plenty of regional cuisine made available at special low prices.
The Italians love a good feast, and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is certainly an excellent cause for celebration. There are also lots of fireworks, and a general atmosphere of festival and merriment. It is one of the most boisterous and celebratory holiday observances to be found on the Italian social calendar.