Wednesday, September 21, 2011
©Nina Buesing Corvallo
When I was in high school our friend Joe always made us walk through the Feast of San Gennaro. He just loved the feast. I didn't mind. It reminded me of Dom back home. But when I lived in Nolita I dreaded the Feast. San Gennaro brings noise, alarming hygiene conditions and lots of yikes to the residents; and loss of income to the businesses that are not involved in the feast.
The other day while re-watching the Godfather II, it occurred to me that I had never seen the actual procession of San Gennaro.
So the husband and I went down to The Church of Most Precious Blood watched the mass (in English and Italian!) last Monday and followed the procession up Mulberry Street. I must say that I enjoyed it. The tradition of the San Gennaro feast hails from Naples. I was very moved by it, no doubt because my father-in-law was from Naples and he recently unexpectedly passed.
My father-in-law was a staunch atheist and I am a staunch agnostic. Nevertheless it was captivating and a treat to imagine decades past of people celebrating the feast of San Gennaro on Mulberry street.
This is part of what makes New York great: That people are from everywhere and that you can celebrate Chinese New Year one month on one block and the feast of San Gennaro on the adjacent block some months later.
Culture and tradition can be stifling, but it doesn't have to be and life is a little more colorful with these elements.
As to the Feast, well I am glad I don't live on Mulberry Street this week. I wish the organizers would emphasize quality and tradition more and focus less on commerce at all cost (and keep the vendors from blasting amplified music). But I did enjoy myself and I even ended up buying something -- a flying frog sculpture hand carved in Bali.
La Festa di San Gennaro ©Nina Buesing Corvallo