Photo: Andrea Pineda-Salgado

The Feast of San Gennaro: what to know before you go

The Feast in Little Italy is back after two years of being paused due to Covid-19. Now through Sept. 26 stop by for concerts, contests and carnival games. And food — lots and lots of food. Epicenter reporter Andrea Pineda-Salgado stopped by to get the scoop. Here’s what she had to say:

Mask up!

This one may seem self-explanatory, but because the Feast of San Gennaro is such a New York institution (it started in 1926!) it’s widely attended and is especially chaotic in the afternoon when throngs of people crowd the streets. What we’re saying is, it’s impossible to socially distance. And unlike other events in New York City, this event is open to the public so you don’t need proof of vaccination to attend.

Photo: Andrea Pineda-Salgado

Bring Cash

We know credit and debit cards have been the preferred method of payment throughout the pandemic, but if you if you want to grab a slice of pizza, a cannoli, or a gelato scoop from one of the vendors, make sure you bring cash — and don’t expect them to make change for large bills. 

Be aware of where you eat

The vaccine mandate is in effect in New York City, and when restaurants get as crowded as they have been in Little Italy, checking vaccine cards can become an afterthought, while some restaurants are seating people strictly outside to avoid that step altogether. Other restaurants have made their opinions of the mandate known with signs such as: “We do not discriminate: vaccinated or unvaccinated, all customers who wish to patronize are welcome in our establishment.”  

Photo: Andrea Pineda-Salgado

Watch people stuff themselves

Tomorrow there’s a zeppole eating contest, on Friday it’s pizza and on Saturday, may the best meatball eater win. Not your thing? Tonight is also opera night, from 7 to 9 p.m. Learn more about these events here.

Know the meaning behind the Feast of San Gennaro

San Gennaro, also known as Saint Gennaro, was a bishop in Benevento, Italy, who died a martyr. When prosecutors beheaded him due to his Christian faith, a Neapolitan lady collected his blood in a phial and preserved it in Naples. Neapolitans prayed to Saint Gennaro for protection, and on Sept. 19, his believers celebrate the anniversary of his martyrdom. The tradition of the feast here in New York City began during the 20th century as many Neapolitans settled on Mulberry Street. Fun fact: the event lasts 11 days because Little Italy has 11 blocks. There will be a grand procession celebrating Saint Gennaro on Saturday, Sept. 25 at 2 p.m.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.