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Summer Holiday
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I lived in Europe (Italy, France, Spain, England) for a while. My first experience with August 15th sticks in my memory because it was so unexpected. Summers are hot and humid, August is horrible, but business goes on as usual.

Until August 15th. The first August 15th I spent in Rome, I got up as usual about dawn, performed morning ablutions, got dressed and went down the street to the little trattoria for breakfast. Closed. Everywhere I went, shops, eateries and businesses were closed and shuttered. Noisy Roman streets and alleys were deserted. Even the cats were not to be seen.

When I asked why, the next day, I was told that everyone always takes August 15th off. No work, no strenuous vacationing--just a daylong siesta or a neighborly chat in the back of the cathedral among friends.

It was weird to see and hear a major city go silent and still for a whole day. Everyone stays home and relaxes or goes to the cool, dark cathedral, lights a candle perhaps, and visits.

I found out that in Italy, August 15th is "Ferragosto", remembrance of an ancient Roman holiday in honor of Augustus (Feriae Augusti). The Christians, as was their wont, adopted the day as the date of the Assumption*. When you can't beat 'em, join 'em, making the day a holy day of observance.

I like the idea of observing the day by relaxing.

[*(1) the happy departure of Mary from this life; (2) the assumption of her body into heaven. It is the principal feast of the Blessed Virgin.] Thank you for asking.

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