Buon Ferragosto! This is just a quick bloggy shout out to my Italian friends. In Italy, August 15th is, of course, the Feast of the Assumption. But, the Catholic Church piggybacked on the long celebrated holiday of Ferragosto much the way Christmas usurped the time honored winter solstice festivities. It is the biggest summer holiday in Italy, originally Feriae Augusti , festival of the emperor Augustus. Judy Witts Francini, fellow blogger extraordinaire (http://www.divinacucina.blogspot.com) will attest to the significance of Ferragosto with Italian vacationers. Apparently, every Italian who can goes away to the coast or the hills to mark the holiday. Sounds fun, no?
In Ireland, where I was born, it is a more somber, churchy holy day. But, and here's the thing, there is something unique about Ireland. My middle name is Assumpta. Yeah, you heard me. I can testify that not one of my grade school classmates shared this moniker. Nope. Teased? Oh yeah. But in Ireland, Assumpta is a common name. Even characters on television have the name. (Think Ballykissangel.) Years ago, when I discovered Ballykissangel, I was thrilled to see a young, beautiful, female character named Assumpta. (Up until then the only people I knew with my name were old nuns. No offense, but there's really no glam factor there.)
Dervla Kirwan as Assumpta on Ballykissangel.
Since I was born in a Mother & Baby Home in Dublin, my mom was certain the nuns had "suggested" Assumpta for my middle name. When I was adopted by John and Mary Sheahan, they respectfully kept my given name of Catherine Assumpta, but they added a second middle name, Maria. With the whole Catholic "Assumption of Mary" and Maria, the Hispanic/Mediterranean version of Mary, I was super covered on the saint front. My mom, a woman of Luxembourgian heritage from Chicago, naturally loved all things Spanish. Since her own name was Mary, she thought a middle name of Maria for me made sense ... and sounded Hispanic. Ole! Also, my parents, born and raised in the Midwest, thought Maria might be an easier middle name for me to deal with in grade school. (Gee, my parents were so wise. Who knew?) The only girl I knew in high school who had a similarly "saintly" middle name was my friend Terry. Her name was Theresa Madonna Darcy. And let's face it: Madonna is way cooler than Assumpta.
So, in my egocentric, self absorbed way of living, I assume the entire country of Italy has been celebrating... ME ... all day! I ask you, how cool is that?
So, there you have it. You've learned my geeky middle name and, you still have time to wish each other Buon Ferragosto.