The Feast of San Gennaro is New York City’s most historical religious outdoor festival that is in its 84th year. The festival was founded by four immigrant families from Naples in 1926 who lived on Mulberry Street, and originally began as a one-day religious commemoration of San Gennaro, the Patron Saint of Naples. The festival expanded and is now an 11-day annual celebration of Italian culture and the Italian-American community that features religious processions, parades, food, games, musical performances, and even a cannoli-eating contest.
This year it began on September 16, and will end this Sunday, September 26, 2010. The festivities run every day from noon to midnight, with a Grand Procession parade at 2 p.m. on Saturday, September 25, and the closing ceremonies including a celebratory High Mass and a religious procession on Sunday, September 26 (The official Feast Day). The closing procession will carry the shrine to San Gennaro through the streets of Little Italy.
The festival spans eight blocks, from Houston Street to Canal Street, and features food indigenous to Campania, Italy, including zeppole (dough fritters dipped in powdered sugar), sausages served with peppers and onions, braccioli (pork or beef, wrapped around an herbed cheese filling), grilled sweetbreads (thymus gland), and various Italian-American pastas and pizzas.
“This Feast of San Gennaro holds a special place in the place of Italian people everywhere,” says Joseph Mattone, President of Figli di San Gennaro, Inc. “It is a festive period of faith and redemption, a time for remembrance and reconciliation, and a time for celebration. The delicious food, the free musical entertainment that reflects Italian-American culture and heritage are all there. The Feast brings the world to Little Italy and Little Italy to the world.”
So if you’re in the city this weekend, go to the San Gennaro festival in Little Italy and mangia, mangia!
For more information on the Feast of San Gennaro, visit http://sangennaro.org/