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Ferragosto is an Italian holiday celebrated on August 15. Originally, it was related to a celebration of the middle of the summer and the end of the hard labour in the fields. In time, Roman Catholicism adopted 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. In fact, the present Italian name of the holiday derives from its original Latin name, Feriae Augusti ("Festivals [Holidays] of the Emperor Augustus") .
Almost 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 when Italians take brief vacations. The holiday often coincides with peak activity of the Perseid meteor shower leaving Italians at a particular advantage to view the astronomical event seen best at pre-dawn hours.