Ferragosto is an Italian holiday celebrated on August 15.
Ferragosto in ancient Rome 
The term Ferragosto derives from the Latin expression feriae Augusti (Augustus' rest) indicating a festivity set up by the emperor Augustus in 18 BC which was an addition to the existing and very ancient Roman festivals which fell on the same month, such as the Vinalia rustica or the Consualia, to celebrate the harvest and the end of the main agricultural tasks. The ancient Ferragosto, in addition to the evident self-celebratory political purposes, had the purpose of linking the main August festivities to provide a suitable period of rest, also called Augustali, necessary after the hard labour of the previous weeks.
During the celebrations, in the entire empire horse races were organised and labour animals , oxen, donkeys and mules, were dispensed from work and decorated with flowers. Such ancient traditions are still alive today, virtually unchanged in their form and participation, during the "Palio dell'Assunta" which takes place on 16 August in Siena. The very name "Palio" comes from the "pallium", the piece of precious fabric which was the usual prize of the winners of the horse races in ancient Rome.
Ferragosto during Fascism 
The popular tradition of the Ferragosto trip arises during Fascism. Starting from the second half of the 1920s, in the mid-August period, the regime organised, through the Fascist leisure and recreational organisations of the various corporations, hundreds of popular trips, due to the setting up of the "People's Trains of Ferragosto", at hard discounted prices.
The initiative gave the opportunity also to the less well off social classes to visit Italian cities or to reach seaside and mountain resorts. The offer was limited to the days of 13, 14 and 15 August and comprised the two options of the "One-Day Trip", within a 50-100 km radius, and the "Three-Day Trip" within a radius of about 100–200 km.
It was during these people's trips that the majority of Italian families had for the first time the concrete opportunity to see with their own eyes the sea, the mountains and the cities of art. Moreover, since the trips did not include food, the connected tradition of the packed lunch arose.
Ferragosto in religion 
The Catholic Church celebrates this date as a Holy Day of Obligation to commemorate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary—the real physical elevation of her sinless soul and incorrupt body, into Heaven. Before the Roman Catholic Church came into existence, however, this holiday was celebrated in the Roman Empire to honor the gods—in particular Diana—and the cycle of fertility and ripening.
Ferragosto in popular culture 
In the past it was common for businesses to close and the entire month of August was taken as a holiday and leisure time in Italy in honor of this feast day. In present days, Ferragosto is mainly a short holiday (for those who are not on a longer holiday already) when most Italians take short vacations at the beach, and enjoy large communal meals. People celebrate on the streets in many cities of Italy.
Ferragosto in astronomy 
- Pianigiani, Ottorino (1907). "Vocabolario etimologico della lingua italiana" (in Italian).
- Lodovico Antonio Muratori, Dissertazioni sopra le antichità italiane, Barbiellini, Roma, 1755, tomo II, pag. 32
- Gaetano Moroni, Dizionario di erudizione storico-ecclesiastica, Tipografia Emiliana, Venezia, 1843, volume XXIII, pag. 155
- Michele Ventrella, Gite fuori porta a Ferragosto, Corriere del Mezzogiorno, 14 agosto 2012
- Alberto De Bernardi, Una dittatura moderna: il fascismo come problema storico, Paravia, Milano, 2001