Whether through firsthand experience or hearsay, anyone even vaguely familiar with Italian culture knows that food and feasts are an incredibly important aspect of Italian social life. Italians first began heavily immigrating to the United States during the late 1800s through the 1930s, in a period referred to as the "New Immigration," and with them they brought over their delicious recipes that many still use today. Celebrating the influence they’ve had on today’s food, a majority of Italian-themed festivals around New England are focused on the country's cuisine. Though it truly is difficult whittling down a selection of the best Italian-centric festivals in an area like New England, our favorites include:
The Fisherman's Feast
Spanning three days in August, this year's Fisherman's Feast will be the 104th annual celebration of the event. Though this specific festival started in 1910 in Boston, the origin of this huge feast goes as far back as the 1500s in Sicily where it originally was based around religious Sciacca fishermen and their dedication to Madonna del Soccorso. To this day, the Fisherman's Feast still features a procession of the Madonna, but the gathering is now primarily centered around Italian treats and cuisine.
The Feast of San Gennaro
Started in 1926 and held in Lower Manhattan, The Feast of San Gennaro comes every year in September, spans 11 days and attracts millions of guests. With an incredible amount of Italian pride floating through the streets during this lively event (even from non-Italians), it's hard not to get swept up in the excitement of it all. Located in the Little Italy neighborhood, a collection of boutique shops featuring Italian products offer a great way to take a breather from the event, though that will likely lead to a number of purchases.
Saint Anthony's Feast
August 29-31 of this year, will mark the 95th anniversary of Saint Anthony's Feast, which is often referred to as the "Feast of All Feasts," and is a beloved event that flows through Boston each year. In fact, this festival is so full of great food and fun that it was voted as the Best Festival 2013 by Boston A-List, where it went up against 20 other nominees. From the intricate decorations to hundreds of Italian food vendors to choose from, this is the Italian festival to visit in New England if you can only make it to one.
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Feast
With a family-friendly atmosphere with parades and, as is the case with of these festivals, a wonderful selection of Italian foods to choose from, the annual Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Feast offers seven days and nights of celebration to be spread between July 9 to 20 this year. With the somewhat recent rebirth of Brooklyn, expect this year's Our Lady of Mt. Carmel to be one of the best yet.
Did we leave out your favorite Italian festival from New England? Let us know in the comments below and make sure to tell us why it belongs on this list!
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