New York City’s yearly calendar is filled with “Must See” events. Cultural and culinary celebrations, parades and performances, holidays and festivals.
One of these is The Feast of San Gennaro.
Originally a religious celebration begun in Naples, the feast arrived in New York in 1926 when Italian Immigrants who lived on and around Little Italy’s Mulberry Street moved to preserve this holiday in their new homeland.
The focal point of the feast was then and remains to this day, The Church of the Most Precious Blood. A small but stunning Roman Catholic Church, the Grand Procession of the image of Saint Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples, is carried from here at the start of the feast. Gennaro is paraded through the streets of Little Italy and attendees are invited to make offerings of to him, in hopes of acquiring his blessings.
While the feast once lasted only a single afternoon, today’s San Gennaro Festival lasts eleven days and has become a major tourist attraction. Streets are closed to traffic and Mulberry Street is inundated with vendors selling everything from zeppoles, to hand rolled cigars, to fresh oysters shucked to order.
Without minimizing the religious significance of the feast it is… well… a FEAST! And, after the venerated saint himself, the food is the star of the show. Each year, I have the pleasure of eating my way up and down Mulberry Street, beginning at the Church of the Most Precious Blood and ending at Old Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.
If you’re in NYC in September, you owe it to yourself to visit the feast and be a part of one of the city’s most iconic, delicious celebrations.