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Ever since 18 BC, Italians celebrate the Summer every year on August 15 with a public holiday they call Ferragosto (from Latin feriae Augusti, meaning holidays). This public holiday dates back to emperor Augustus who established it to unite all pagan celebrations for the end of the farming season.
At first, Ferragosto was celebrated on August 1, and it was moved to August 15 by the Catholic Church in the 6th century. People were so enthusiastic in celebrating the beginning of August that the Church could not eliminate this pagan tradition and had to recognize it.
Summer is the season that better represents the real Italian way of being. Therefore, Ferragosto is a very important day: with the exception of some particular cases, nobody in Italy is in the office on August 15. Usually, Italians arrange very important and undelayable plans for this day: endless barbecues, global water balloons wars, challenging trekkings followed by a lavish meal in the lodge.
Is there a different and more creative way to celebrate the Summer?
Many cities have active volunteerism associations with a specific programs - often available online - for those who don't have time to devote to voluntary work on a regular basis. There are activities for every day of the year, at different time slots, among which everyone can choose depending on their availability.
When heat reaches its maximum level, homeless people need more help, and so do the elderly left alone in homes with no air conditioning. And there are also the children living in orphanages or hospitalized: the most part of the staff is on holiday and they need someone to play with in the funniest day of the year.
Cities are empty in August, and that sense of karmic peace we feel is nothing but the significant reduction of noise pollution levels. During a bunch of days, we can close our eyes and not hearing the noise of a car passing by for a few minutes. If we focus a bit more, we can even hear the sound of cicadas. If we concentrate a bit further, we can even feel the constant rhythm of our breath, we can expand it, slow it down, drown under it all our thoughts and stress. Nirvana is just around the corner.
What if silence is not really your thing? It doesn't matter: let's scream, drill or hit the walls. Considering the time of the year, it is likely that you and your cat are the only two inhabitants of the building. Take out the electric guitar you used to play when you were at highschool, call the members of your former band and improvise a loud jam session.
No worries if you can't play a decent version of Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd: that's exactly why you studied Chemistry, Law or Medicine in college.
And if you don't feel like partying, remember that these days are perfect to do those noisy works you have postponed many times because the quick-tempered, sleepless manager living next to you.
Whatever your choice for that crazy, hot, long-awaited day: happy Summer to all of you!