August 15th. It’s quite a day, and I could highlight it for any number of reasons. For example, if you’re a music fan, you’ll likely know that today is the anniversary of the very legendary Woodstock Festival.
Or if your tastes run to the literary, you might recall that it was on this day in 1980 that the very great poet Czeslaw Milosz received the Nobel Prize in literature.
From his poem “Campo dei Fiori” (which I have selected for reasons that, I promise, will come clear by the end of this post!):
In Rome on the Campo dei Fiori
baskets of olives and lemons,
cobbles spattered with wine
and the wreckage of flowers.
Vendors cover the trestles
with rose-pink fish;
armfuls of dark grapes
heaped on peach-down.
Film buff? Then certainly you know that today is the day that “Wizard of Oz” premiered at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. It was 1939, and no one would look at Kansas the same ever again …
And if you’re artistic tastes run to the rather more classical, then perhaps you’re celebrating today the birth of the great Italian painter Francesco Zuccarelli, who in addition to other beautiful works gives us this sumptuous rendition of a Bacchanal …
But the real reason I call your attention to August 15th is to wish you all a very Happy Ferragosto!
Ferragosto is probably more likely known to you as a Roman Catholic holiday celebrating the Assumption of Mary into heaven, but as with many of these sorts of holidays, there are pagan roots which well precede this contemporary definition, and it is this Ferragosto which I celebrate today. Essentially, Ferragosto is/was a holiday designated for the celebration of cycles of fertility, ripening, and the harvest (things that are certainly on our minds here at Ridge!). Diana, representing fertility, was certainly the primary figure of adoration and celebration on this day, but so too were Vertumnus, God of the Seasons , Conso, the God of the Harvest, and Opis, also a fertility goddess, and a goddess of vegetation and growth. Notably, it was also a holiday in which all classes came together to celebrate, from wealthy businessmen and politicians, to farmers, slaves, and prostitutes. A truly democratic holiday …
In short, Ferragosto is a Harvest Festival for all, and as we’re all sitting here on Monte Bello, waiting on veraison, it feels rather right to be celebrating just such an agricultural milestone.
So I say to you, Buon Ferragosto!
Today, Ferragosto is one of Italy’s 12 national holidays, with myriads of institutionalized ways by which to celebrate. What unites them all is a spirit of appreciation for the land, and the natural processes of life, combined with a passionate and lustful intake of food and wine in the company of loved ones and family.
So be your heart pagan or catholic, be your faith in Emperor Augustus or the Virgin Mary, be you Italian or otherwise, to you again I say, Buon Ferragosto!
Go outside, and bring someone with you. Bring a bottle of wine, and some bread and olive oil. Find a nice place to sit, in sight of some flowers. Have a poem hand-written on a small piece of paper in your pocket, and expect the same of your companion. Pour the wine, and toast the gods and goddesses. Then you read your poem, and then listen to your companion read theirs. Then break the bread, drizzle a little olive oil, and eat and drink. Sigh contentedly, then dig a small hole, and bury the two poems. Don’t come back to this same place for at least a year, but make sure to come back to it at least once before you too ascend to whatever version of heaven awaits you.
And if you can’t do all that, then at least share a good glass of wine with someone you love, and read a poem together. Or watch a movie. Or listen to some music. But be together, and celebrate creation.
Categories: Events, Food & Wine Pairing, History, Viticultural Salmagundi, Wine & Art, Wine & Music, Wine & Poetry