In Defense of a Monthly Festa (for Mental Health!)

Super Bowl

Writing bills isn’t the only thing you should be doing on a monthly basis. When my kids were small, I occasionally let them take a “mental health” day off from school. It was an occasion to spend some unexpected time hanging out together having fun, even having a picnic on the living room floor if the weather was bad. I would guess that in each of our memory banks we look back on those unexpected celebrations as important treasures that balanced our otherwise routine lives with the fun and laughter we needed to replenish and be even more productive than we were before.

But have you kept up those regular “mental health feste” in your adult years? They may just do you a world of good, by lightening your mood, revitalizing your energy, and strengthening your social life. Need I say more?

Well today, I have been cooking all morning in preparation of America’s big night tonight—Super Bowl Sunday. Of course I sing along to my favorite arias while creating mini-calzioni; broccolini e salsiccia; chili con carne and more—all with my typical Italian take on whatever holiday gives me reason to invite a few good people over to celebrate. Yes, it is important to fare festa, to dot our lives with celebration, especially if you are prone to:

  • Working non-stop
  • Leading a solitary lifestyle
  • Having a serious personality
  • Gravitating mostly toward intellectual pursuits.

Italy celebrates life full throttle; from the simplest joy of an onomastico (unfortunately, there is no “Saint Raeleen Day”, but that just gives me something to strive for J )—-to the grand occasions in a person’s life that bring a new level of personal growth.

Festeggiare. Throw an impromptu party. And do it regularly. The brevity of life begs us not to wait. I admit I don’t (yet) know what teams are playing; to boot I know next to nothing about football. But I do know how to intuit when it’s time to break out of the box and have some fun, especially when I have been absorbed in a long stretch of work on a project that makes me forget how much time has really passed.

So today—throw a festa.

If you can’t come up with an official occasion, INVENT ONE. You are the sole author of the life you wish to live. Live it happy and decorate it with busts of care-free fun.

Happy Super Bowl Sunday, e buona festa!


Raeleen D’Agostino Mautner, Ph.D. is author of “Living la Dolce Vita” (Sourcebooks) and “Lemons into Limoncello” (HCI Books). She is a columnist for The Italian Tribune, and Host of The Italian Art of Living Well radio show, heard Mondays @ 7AM EST live stream .  You may write to her at


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