Our Lady of the Grape Harvest

By early September, the Northern Hemisphere is well on its way toward autumn by the almanac, and the first big feast of the month is one that looks back toward summer and ahead toward fall. Not widely celebrated in the US, it is the Feast of the Nativity of Mary, celebrated each year on the 8th of September and mainly through two fruits: the summery blueberry and the autumnal grape.

In Italy, it is a day for blueberries, for their blueness serves as a reminder of the blue that is traditionally considered the color of Mary’s cloak. Across the Alps in France, it is a day for grapes. Farmers will harvest their finest grapes and bring them to church for blessings, and folks will place bunches of grapes in the hands of statues of Mary throughout the land. No wonder, for the feast is also known there as Our Lady of the Grape Harvest, being that it falls at the height of the grape harvest.

Just a few days ago, with the Convivio Book of Days calendar for September, I included in the blog a short home movie, circa 1950, of my dad and grandparents making wine. (To be honest, the movie clip is less about making wine than the fun that went along with it––it ends with my Grandma and the neighbor, Mamam, dancing with pizza pans.) Though my family is from Italy, I don’t know for sure if they did much with blueberries for the Feast of the Nativity of Mary. But considering it’s September, and considering each September Grandpa was busy at his winemaking… I suspect there were always grapes involved. For old times’ sake, here’s the home movie once again, and, as well, a link to the Convivio Book of Days calendar for September, should you have missed it. It’s a PDF, easily printed on standard letter size paper. Enjoy!



4 thoughts on “Our Lady of the Grape Harvest

  1. Marilyn Pancoast says:

    Loved the video. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Mary C Leto says:

    Wonderful … are all Italian grandmothers the same ? … I’m sure this is a movie of Rose Asciutto my husband’s grandmother – I miss her but still keep all the wisdom and traditions she passed down. I hope my grandchildren will continue to honor their ancestors the way you do. Thanks for the memory.

    • John Cutrone says:

      They do seem to have a lot in common, Mary… as I’ve mentioned in the past, when I was a boy I was always surprised to meet grandmothers who were tall or who spoke good English. All of the grandmothers I knew as a boy––my own and those of other Italian relatives and friends––were just like mine. It wasn’t until I was in school that I began meeting others!

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