27 September 2011

Feast of San Gennaro

Every September New York's Little Italy is transformed into one huge street party with the Feast of San Gennaro. Lasting 11 days, it's the largest outdoor religious festival in the country. And this year marked its 85th anniversary.

The neighbourhood, once home to thousands of Italian immigrants, has seen an exodus out of the city in recent years by Italian Americans and has subsequently been largely swallowed up by Chinatown. Elements of its heritage can still be found though, whether it's in an 100 year old café or at a museum that celebrates a particular aspect of Italian culture.

The festival honours Saint Gennaro the patron saint of Naples. At the Most Precious Blood Church people were able to leave an offering or pick up one of the dozens of rosaries offered in myriad colours.

There were rides and games for children and musical performances for the crowds. There were also processions, contests, and a giant birthday cake. But one of the biggest draws was the food, much of which was served one way—fried.

Preparing the onions and peppers for the sausages. The smell was amazing but the smoke was enough to choke an elephant.

And whatever you do, if you go next year to the Feast of San Gennaro, don't forget the cannoli.

Photos by Michele.

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