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Feast of San Gennaro

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Saint Gennaro, bishop and martyr, by Caravaggio
Saint Gennaro, bishop and martyr, by Caravaggio

The Feast of San Gennaro (in Italian: Festa di San Gennaro), also known as San Gennaro Festival, is a Neapolitan and Italian-American patronal festival dedicated to Saint Januarius, patron saint of Naples and Little Italy, New York.[1]

His feast is celebrated on 19 September in the calendar of the Catholic Church.[a][3][4]

In the United States, the "Festa of San Gennaro" is also a highlight of the year for New York's Little Italy, with the saint's polychrome statue carried through the middle of a street fair stretching for blocks.

In Italy

San Gennaro procession in Naples, 1631
San Gennaro procession in Naples, 1631

In Naples and neighboring areas, an annual celebration and feast of faith held is over the course of three days, commemorating Saint Gennaro. Throughout the festival, parades, religious processions and musical entertainment are featured.[5][6]

In the United States

Little Italy, New York

Looking north at Mulberry Street during the 2014 festival. To the right the Little Italy Bakery can be seen constructing what became the world's largest cannolo.
Looking north at Mulberry Street during the 2014 festival. To the right the Little Italy Bakery can be seen constructing what became the world's largest cannolo.

The festival was first celebrated in the United States in September 1926, when immigrants from Naples congregated along Mulberry Street in the Little Italy section of Manhattan in New York City to continue the tradition they had followed in Italy to celebrate Saint Januarius, the Patron Saint of Naples.

The immigrant families on Mulberry Street who started the feast, a group of cafe owners, erected a small chapel in the street to house the image of their patron Saint. They invited all to partake of their wares, asking the devoted to pin an offering to the ribbon streamers that are hung from the statue's apron. This money was then distributed to the needy poor of the neighborhood. Originally a one-day religious commemoration, over time, the festival expanded into an 11-day street fair organized and run by people outside the neighborhood. It is now an annual celebration of food and drink, and a major tourist attraction.

Centered on Mulberry Street, which is closed to traffic for the occasion, the festival generally features sausages, zeppole, street vendors, games, parades and other such attractions. The Grand Procession is held starting at 2 p.m. on the last Saturday of the feast, immediately after a celebratory Mass at the Church of the Most Precious Blood. This is a Roman Catholic candlelit procession in which the statue of San Gennaro is carried from its permanent home in the Most Precious Blood Church through the streets of Little Italy.

Another festival is held with the same attractions in New York City's other Little Italy, in the Fordham/Belmont community in the Bronx. The streets are closed to traffic, and the festivities begin early in the morning and proceed late into the night.


In 1995, following the exposure of financial improprieties and mafia involvement, New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani declared that if the city's San Gennaro festival did not remove corrupt elements, he would shut it down.[7] After Giuliani's ultimatum, a community group was formed to manage the festival; the municipal government asked it to hire a professional manager, and it hired Mort Berkowitz to be the financial manager.[8]

Other locations

Similar festivals have also been sponsored in other cities, the most recent being Belmar, New Jersey. The Feast of San Gennaro of the Jersey Shore was founded in 2012 by Daniel Di Cesare, whose goal was to highlight the positive contributions of Italian Americans.[9]

In 1980, Vincent Jimmy Palmisano brought the Feast of San Gennaro to the Las Vegas Valley, Nevada, for the first time. The event was hosted and entertained by Tony Sacca from 1986-2016, along with celebrities from the strip such as Pat Cooper, Ernest Borgnine, Jerry Vale, Liberace, Frankie Avalon. The initial location was at the Italian American Club on East Sahara.

After its success in Las Vegas, Vincent's nephew, Anthony Palmisano, took over running the San Gennaro Feast in 1996, and the festival has now been present in the Las Vegas Valley for over 43 years. After mostly being held on the Las Vegas Strip, the Feast has found a new home at The M Resort Spa & Casino in Henderson. The Las Vegas festival is now held twice a year, in the Spring and Fall.[10] This bi-annual festival features traditional Italian cuisine, the largest amusement rides and games, non-stop live entertainment from stars such as Emilio Baglioni, Chazz Palminteri, Tommy DeVito from the Jersey Boys and Louis Prima's daughter, Lena Prima.

In 2002, Jimmy Kimmel, Adam Carolla, and Doug DeLuca founded the Feast of San Gennaro Los Angeles, which is now a major annual event held every September in Hollywood.

In 2011, Hampton Bays (Long Island, New York) started their San Gennaro celebration. It has since grown rapidly to become the largest San Gennaro Feast on Long Island, and second only to the Little Italy Feast in New York State. The Hampton Bays Feast of San Gennaro draws a huge crowd, with live bands, raffles and prizes, and vendors selling food and drink.[b]

In 2013, The San Gennaro Foundation Seattle was formed by the Mascio family to bring the San Gennaro Festival to Seattle, WA. Held the second week of September, it includes the processional of the San Gennaro statue, live music and food. This three day festival is held in the heart of Georgetown, WA, where many of Seattle's Italian community settled when they first arrived in Seattle.

In popular culture


See also

Notes and references


  1. ^ In the 1498 Roman martyrology, his martyrdom took place on the thirteenth day before the kalends of October, that is 19 September.[2]
  2. ^ Though the Hampton Bays San Gennaro took a hiatus for COVID concerns, it was scheduled to return from 2022.


  1. ^ "San Gennaro – The Patron Saint of Naples and Little Italy, NYC". Archived from the original on 25 February 2009. Retrieved 4 October 2022.
  2. ^ J. O'Connell, "The Roman Martyrology" [London 1962] s.v. September 19.
  3. ^ "Martyrologium Romanum" (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2001 ISBN 88-209-7210-7).
  4. ^ "About San Gennaro". Feast of San Gennaro. Archived from the original on 15 January 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2022.
  5. ^ Napoli, Comune di. "Comune di Napoli – Il ritorno della Festa di San Gennaro". Archived from the original on 4 November 2016. Retrieved 4 October 2022.
  6. ^ "". Archived from the original on 3 November 2016. Retrieved 4 October 2022.
  7. ^ Barry, Dan (9 September 1995). "Citing Mob, Mayor May Shut Street Festival in Little Italy". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 October 2022.
  8. ^ Tonelli, Bill (27 September 2004). "Arrivederci, Little Italy". New York. Retrieved 4 October 2022.
  9. ^ "The Feast of San Gennaro at the Jersey Shore comes to Belmar" (Press release). Borough of Belmar. 8 September 2012. Retrieved 4 October 2022.
  10. ^ "San Gennaro Feast of Las Vegas". Retrieved 4 October 2022.

External links

This page was last edited on 15 May 2023, at 11:29
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