Food and religious festivals in Sicily this August

August is a month filled with endless Sagre and Feste in a series of celebrations which fill the table with food tasting and patron saint holidays.

Most Italians have their annual summer holidays this month, so things are particularly hectic.

August in Italy means the thermometer hits its peak. The humid Italo summer closes down the entire peninsula as all Italians go to the beach, up to the mountains or overseas.

The term Ferragosto which describes the mid-August summer holidays in Italy comes from the Latin Feriae Augusti (Augustus’ rest), a celebration introduced by Emperor Augustus in 18 BC. In addition, extensive ancient Roman festivals celebrated the harvest and the end of a long period of intense agricultural labour.

During the ancient celebrations, horse races were held across the Empire, and beasts of burden (including oxen, donkeys and mules), were released from their work duties and decorated with flowers.

The many Palio horse races all around Italy still reflect today’s ancient Roman celebrations. The name “Palio” comes from the pallium, a piece of precious fabric which was the usual prize given to winners of the horse races in Roman times.

The popular tradition of taking a trip during Ferragosto occurred during the Fascist period. In the second half of the 1920s, during the mid-August period, the regime organized hundreds of popular trips through Fascist recreational organizations. People’s Trains for Ferragosto were available at discounted prices.

The 15th of August, is a national holiday and a holy feast celebrating the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, when the Catholic church says Madonna’s sinless soul and incorruptible body were taken to heaven. In Sicily and Italy, there are many ancient festivities in cities where the ‘Virgin of the Assumption’ is the patron or protector.

Ferragosto in Sicily offers elaborate endless parades and celebrations from Randazzo (Catania) to Messina, Capo d’orlando (Messina) , Motta d’Affermo (Catania), Novara di Sicilia (Messina), Montagnareale (Messina), Piazza Armerina (Enna), Aci Catena (Catania) and many more.

Here are some annual events to check out this August.

Be sure to save or pin the infographic above for reference when you are planning your next trip to Sicily.