In the course of the festivities throughout the empire horse races were organized and draft animals - oxen, donkeys and mules - were exempt from work and decked with flowers. These ancient traditions are still alive today, virtually unchanged in form and participation, during the "Palio of the Assumption" held in Siena on August 16. The very name "Palio" is derived from "pallium", the drape of fine cloth which was the usual prize for the winners of horse racing in Ancient Rome.
In the Christian era, since the 4th century AD on this date one of the most important religious holidays has been celebrated, the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, which celebrates the dogma (proclaimed by Pope Pius XII on 1 November 1950) when Blessed Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was elevated to Heaven with her sinless soul and incorrupt body. The popularity of the festivity was accompanied by the large use of the female name Assunta, in honor of Mary, for girls born around the 15 August.