Buongiorno on this sparkling Friday.
Mulberry Street in Little Italy is decked out in green, white and red as far as the eye can see.
No, Christmas has not come early; the decorations are for the Feast of San Gennaro, which starts today and runs for nearly two weeks.
New York City has celebrated this festival, which honors the patron saint of Naples, Italy, since 1926.
The story goes that in A.D. 305, the Roman Emperor Diocletian beheaded Januarius, or Gennaro, then the city’s beloved bishop.
Christian worshipers saved his blood, which has become sacred.
Every time Neapolitans feel there’s going to be a problem, they ask the cardinal in Naples to take the blood out so they can pray over it, And hopefully, the dried-out blood changes from solid to liquid.
It’s a sign of good luck.
Italian immigrants who arrived in New York in the late 19th and early 20th centuries established the Shrine Church of the Most Precious Blood on Mulberry Street in 1888 and brought the Feast of San Gennaro to the neighborhood by 1926.
Little Italy, which once spanned almost 50 blocks, now runs mostly along Mulberry Street. It’s still crammed with Italian restaurants and shops selling cured meats and cheeses.
We suggest exploring the area during the festival. Some highlights:
• A grand procession on Saturday.
• An opera night on Wednesday.
• And how many meatballs or cannoli can you eat? There are contests throughout the week.