Can you smell this sausage and pepper sandwich?
Can you suddenly go for a deep fried piece of heaven in the form of a zeppole or calzone??
I know I can. We are in luck. Starting on Sunday July 10, The Giglio Feast in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is beginning. It is a week-long annual event. Attending this feast has been a tradition in my family since I was in college. It was there that my mentor, favorite professor, and "Morrie", shared this experience with me. He is actually one of the participants who lift the Giglio.
This is no ordinary Italian street feast. What makes this feast special are the lifts. But lets start with the Giglio. A Giglio is the reason for the celebration. It is a large, slim, tall statute that weighs approximately 4 tons. It is carried by a group of men who are all around and even under it. They must work together to move this enormous tower. On top of the Giglio, there are band members and their instruments. The band members play while this statute is being thrown in the air! It takes 112 men to move the Giglio all around the feast, periodically lifting it into the air. It is the most amazing site. There is no way to avoid the excitement, suspense, and exhilaration. The feeling of the large crowds are contagious. The music and the food conspire for a fun day or evening event for all ages.
This tradition has been happening in this neighborhood, in Brooklyn for over 100 years. To make a long story short, it honors Saint Paulinus a.k.a San Paolino who in 410 A.D. changed places with a child who had been abducted into slavery so that the child may go free. Saint Paulinus was eventually freed and upon his return celebrations of his sacrifice began. The story goes they became more elaborate every year and from every village. Once it moved to the U.S. and Brooklyn, the feast of the Giglio now also commemorates the church that supports it, Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
I look forward to this feast every year. It is more than the delicious food. It is family, friends, and the tradition. I will be there this year and I hope you will be too.
While the feast runs daily July 10th-17th, the lifts take place on Sunday July 10th at 1pm, Wednesday July 13th at 8pm, and Sunday July 17th at 2pm.
For details on the feast and getting there:
For the history of the Giglio: