From Our Blog
As one of the oldest cities in our country, Boston’s traditions run deep and no event on the calendar represents the blend of history, culture and food better than the yearly North End Feasts. Collectively, these celebrations of Italian heritage have been a city favorite for more than one hundred years, drawing people from around the Northeast and beyond.
Settled in the 1600s by the Puritans, the North End is the oldest neighborhood in Boston. Here, you will find many landmarks of our nation’s history including the Paul Revere House. It is a great part of town to explore with something to discover around every corner.
The first Italians arrived in the North End in the 1860s. They settled themselves with others who came from the same parts of the old country, creating enclaves of people from Naples, Sicily, Genoa, and Milan. This consolidation of cultures helped to preserve the distinct customs, languages, and food from each region and by the 1930s the neighborhood was almost entirely made up of people of Italian heritage. Today, that number is only about 30 percent, but Boston’s “Little Italy” continues to celebrate every year with food and festivals.
Beginning in early August and running into September, the Feasts are weekend celebrations, focusing on a different region of Italy. Each Feast begins with a procession where a statue of the Patron Saint of that part of Italy is paraded through neighborhood streets. As the statue passes, onlookers attach dollar bills as a donation in hopes that the Saint will answer their prayers.
Once the procession is complete, the rest of the weekend sees the community come together to celebrate. There are marching bands, vendors, rides and games for kids, evening entertainment and of course and especially the food. Below is the calendar of feasts.
August 3 – 6: Saint Agrippina Feast. Join the three days of celebrations that take place around Hanover & Battery Street in the North End.
August 10 – 13: Madonna Della Cava Feast. This year is the 103rd anniversary of the Feast.
August 17 – 20: Fisherman’s Feast. This is Boston’s oldest continuous Italian Festival, running since 1910.
August 24 – 27: Saint Anthony’s Feast. Started in 1919 by immigrants from the small town of Montefalcione in Avellino, Italy, this Feast has become the largest Italian religious festival in New England.
September 9 – 11: Saints Cosmas & Damian Feast. Celebrating the patrons of the city of Gaeta, Italy, this feast is now in its 98th year.
From world-renowned chefs brought in to demonstrate their skills to the famous North End Meatball Contest, the Feasts are a delectable, not-to-be-missed event. They are a distinct and delicious reflection of the cultural vibrancy of our city.
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Photo Credit - Kyle Klein