by CATHERINE GOODYEAR & MARIA THOMAS, Social Media Editor & Staff Writer
It’s that time of the year again when everyone feels a little Italian. Similar to the Catholics’ St. Patrick’s day, the Feast of San Gennaro is a holiday and event that people of all backgrounds participate in.
For the 92nd year in a row, American-Italians will celebrate their heritage with traditional Italian food, colorful parades and various performers. Each year for 11 days, along Mulberry Street between Canal and Houston Streets, red, white and green garland is hung to commemorate the Feast of San Gennaro.
“I took dance classes in Chinatown since I was two, and I always saw the festival but I never got to go. It always looked so colorful and fun. I am excited to say that this year, I was finally able to go. The atmosphere was magical. People of every ethnicity were gathered to observe Italian culture. It was very fun and I am definitely going next year,” said junior Claudia Bernhardt.
Festival goers can participate in the celebration by enjoying the many food vendors and games that line the streets of Little Italy. People can eat fine sausages or tasty desserts like cannolis. On Sept. 14, the Italian eatery Caffe Palermo sponsored the annual cannoli eating competition.
Ernest (who did not wish to give his last name) is a co-owner of Pip’s Pitt, a sausage and pasta shop located in Little Italy.
“My family and I have been working the Feast of San Gennaro for about 40 years. I love seeing people I know here and watching everyone enjoy the food,” he said.
Victoria Cipollina, senior mechanical engineering major at Manhattan College, finds the feast to be a “beautiful expression of culture”.
“A huge part of my Italian heritage is family and most of what makes me think of my family is food and sharing a meal together. It’s nice to feel like you are part of a community and extended family when you go to the festival. I am definitely looking forward to having a good meal and being a part of this huge event which so many people are able to partake in and celebrate my heritage,” said Cipollina.
San Gennaro was first celebrated in the United States when Italian immigrants from Naples congregated in what is now known as New York’s famous “Little Italy” in September of 1926. They were celebrating Saint Januarius, the patron saint of Naples.
“I am most looking forward to the food at the festival. I celebrate my heritage with my family at dinners and celebrations, including watching soccer. My favorite part of the festival was the lively atmosphere and friendly people. The food and drinks were great. They made it an even better time. To anyone planning on attending, I suggest wearing your stretchiest pants. I have never been so full in my life,” said junior Gabrielle Formoso.
Saint Januarius was a bishop before he became a martyr for the Catholic Church due to his death during the Great Persecution at the hands of Diocletian, the Roman emperor at the time. The people of the San Gennaro festival will honor him by carrying his statue through the streets of Little Italy, known as the Grand Procession. This takes place on the last Saturday of the festival after a celebratory mass.