Celebrate Ferragosto at Home with an Italian Themed Party
What better way to end the summer season than with your very own at-home Italian themed party celebrating the long awaited holiday of Ferragosto? The extended vacation starts August 15th, but you can have your party any time during the month. In its origin, the holiday celebrates the Catholic feast of the Assumption of Mary. However, in modern times, many celebrate getting a long weekend, or sometimes more, off of work.
Historically, this holiday, then referred to as Feriae Augusti, was celebrated across every town where laborers were awarded rest from their hard work. On August 16th, during Palio dell’Assunta, horseraces were organized across the Roman Empire and all working animals like oxen, donkeys and mules were released from their work pens and decorated in flowers and other ornaments. Much of these traditions are alive and well today!
The more modern way Italians celebrate Ferragosto is by taking a break from basically everything. The heat, long work days, house work, chores and anything else that may cause stress. Due to this, you will find that many stores and places of business are closed during this holiday. Families will often serve one large meal a day, attend outdoor picnics and walk around street festivals that are featured in almost every town involving fireworks, street food and traditional displays celebrating the holiday.
When it comes to the cuisine of Ferragosto, it’s all about simplicity. This will make hosting a dinner party a total breeze! In Italy, you will see a lot of fresh dishes with carpaccio, seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables, and salumi boards full of all kinds of fixings, too. A typical dinner would include a meal of seasonal vegetables like peppers and chicken in a red sauce often served with polenta or rice. Here is our favorite recipe that you can make in a slow cooker while you prepare the rest of your feast:
Slow Cooker Italian Chicken with Peppers
- 3 variety colored bell peppers (red, yellow, green- sliced)
- 1 yellow onion (chopped)
- 2 cloves fresh garlic (minced)
- 1 jar of favorite marinara sauce
- 2-4 chicken breasts or thighs (boneless- depending on size)
- 1 tsp basil
- 1 tsp oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- (Optional: make rice, paste or polenta to serve on the side)
Slice up peppers, onions and mince your garlic and toss half of them into the bottom of your slow cooker (preferably 4 quarts or bigger). Place your chicken on top of the vegetables and season it with salt, pepper and herbs. Cover the chicken with the rest of your chopped vegetables and pour the marinara sauce on top. Close the slow cooker by securing the lid and let it simmer for about 3-4 hours (depending on whether you like your chicken shredded or still in whole pieces. If you like your chicken shredded, use tongs or a wooden spoon to mix everything around until the chicken falls apart. Serve over your choice of pasta, polenta or rice for the perfect side. This is so easy and delicious, perfect for a hearty meal to celebrate a festival like Ferragosto.
The main facet of pulling off the perfect Ferragosto party is to play up a relaxed and joyous atmosphere. Everything should be comfortable and laid-back where the usual pressures of a fancy dinner party are thrown out the window. An ideal setting would be a back yard where a large picnic table could be set up with a selection of food and refreshing drinks- don’t forget the wine! String some old-fashioned lights around the yard or outdoor area for a rustic feel and flattering lighting. Use colorful table cloths that have an old-world feel. Flower arrangements are a plus to pay homage to the many beautiful displays that are presented around different town festivals during this holiday. Be as colorful as you want, don’t worry about sticking to a color scheme. Another creative idea for floral arrangements is using empty tomato sauce [tin cans]( https://dorismarket.com/shop/cento-pizza-sauce-15-oz/) as vases, even jars with colorful labels will fit right in with the cheerful motif.
Some other ways to make your Italian themed dinner party a hit is to feature some authentic goodies! A delicious and popular Italian drink is San Pellegrino [Chinotto]( https://dorismarket.com/shop/san-pellegrino-chinotto/) . Not only is this sparkling orange drink great for kids and adults of all ages, but it also makes for a tasty cocktail mixer. We also carry other flavors like Pomegranate & Orange, Blood Orange, Aranciata, Grapefruit, Clementine and Limonata! There’s a fizzy drink for everyone in store in an assortment of cans and classy looking and colorful glass bottles. Here is one of our favorite cocktails using San Pellegrino:
The Classic Italian 75
What you’ll need:
- San Pellegrino Limonata
- Lemon twists
Fill your mixing glass with ice and set aside to chill for a moment. Dump the ice out and add .75oz of Gin, 3oz of Limonata and 3oz of Prosecco. Mix gently with a spoon and serve with lemon twist garnishes in cocktail flues or coupes.
Some other special touches to consider are playing some Italian music to liven up the night. Anything from old folk music to more modern hits would be perfect, just make sure you have some dancing room! If you feel like going all out, consider putting together little gift bags for your guests that they can take home (along with some leftovers). At Doris we have a ton of cute Italian themed ideas for your party favors depending on how big or small you want them to be. Some ideas include: little bottles of Limoncello, dried Italian herbs tied with pretty bows, Italian chocolates and candies as well as jars of various delicious olives. The options are endless!
We hope everyone has a restful and joyful Ferragosto season this year and shares this time with their friends and family, in good health and with lots of love!