This suggestion may seem counterintuitive amidst a zeitgeist of hard times, but instead, it is all the more urgent to declare an impromptu festa –at least once a month–as a way to boost your morale. It doesn’t have to be fancy or costly but it does have to be filled with love, laughter, and lasting good feelings.
Italy’s tendency to festeggiare goes back to some of its oldest inhabitants, the Etruscans, whose tombs from around the 8th and 9th centuries B.C. contain the remains of detailed murals, which frequently depict banquet scenes as a commonplace part of their daily lives. The images of these celebrations depict tantalizing dishes of succulent meats, ripe colorful fruits, and an abundance of flowing wine. Guests are dancing, musicians playing, and everyone adorned in their best garb is gilded with metal jewelry.
In contemporary Italia any day is fair game to throw a festa. These celebrations come in all shapes and sizes and are not stressful events, but rather, joyful get-togethers that serve as a reminder that we share life’s journey in company. An Italian festa might be declared for name days, saint days, holidays, birthdays— or for occasions no one even pretends to have a reason for. One woman hosts regular feste to give her son a chance to practice his opera performance with a “live audience.” Another throws dance parties to teach her friends the new steps she learned in dance class. Entire communities throw celebratory sagre, fairs, to showcase their native produce. Una festa all’italiana might take the form of a sit-down dinner party, or an impromptu picnic with just a cloth thrown over the hood of the car in the middle of an olive grove. It can be an intimate gathering with a few friends, or a community event that welcomes anyone who catches the spirit. The size and theme of the party take a back seat to the real reason Italian life is party-driven: light hearted get-togethers create a network of human calore, warmth.
An updated version of the Etruscan-style banquet can serve as a mini mood-elevating vacation, providing you don’t let it become too costly or labor intensive. Instead of having to purchase and prepare all of the food and drink yourself, why not embrace a monthly potluck mentality? You can even add a theme, such as “Extended Family Celebration” where you round up relatives you normally see only at wakes and weddings; or “Co-Workers Fun Festival”, where you spend some time unwinding with those you normally collaborate with on formal tasks. Assign each person (or couple) to bring an appetizer, salad or soup, beverage, meat or fish, pasta, and dessert. For music—in lieu of a virtuoso with lyre—you can turn on the stereo and choose selections that blend with your theme, or invite your more musical guests to bring their instruments along. Participants can be reminded to dress up or down for the occasion, and after dinner everyone gets up from their chairs and dances as the mood strikes them.
Getting into a monthly festa habit can be easy, fun, and provide you with memories that will make you smile for a lifetime.
(Adapted from an article I wrote for The Italian Tribune). Why not send this post to five people you would like to gather together for your next party, and have them send it to five of their friends, too? The gift of good feelings is the goal of this blog. If you love my brand of self-help with an Italian flare, do let me know it, by posting your comments, or subscribing to this beautiful blog–designed to give you and yours a daily uplift–Italian style. mille grazie!