Italy Folklore Part 2
Funeral. – According to Microedu, there are many traces of archaic practices and beliefs, of an animistic type: in the act of dressing the deceased, he is called by name; a coin (territory of Piacenza) or a flower (Romagna) is placed in his pocket, hand or mouth; the roof of the house is uncovered a little (so that the soul can go out freely), or the door is left ajar for three days, placing a bread and a lamp on a chair; during transport, sugared almonds, money, wheat are thrown away; bread is given to anyone who visits the body or the “consuolo” goes to the survivors, who sometimes (Gioiosa di Sicilia) carries a donkey behind the coffin. In Abruzzo, care is taken to collect the “tear of the dying man”, to be able to use it if necessary against certain ailments; in various other regions (Calabria, Sicily, Sardinia, Puglia, Basilicata, Marche), to relieve the rattle of a long painful agony a yoke is placed under the bed of the dying person. With the name of rèpitu in Sicily and Calabria and attitidu in Sardinia they indicate the lullabies that women both of the family and, sometimes, hired, sing on the coffin in praise of the dead. In some places the corpse of a relative is brought to the tomb with his hands tied; that of a celibate with outstretched arms, and that of a child with a candle in his hands, like a cross. In some part of Puglia, the dying girlfriend is buried with the wedding dress and the photograph of her boyfriend, and not infrequently it is up to the latter to dress the corpse. The fate of the soul depends on the kind of death: the soul of the murdered wanders over the place of the murder, whereby passersby throw stones into it, thinking of burying it under the mound; the soul of the suicide immediately goes to hell; that of the hanged man remains suspended in the air and that of the beheaded, then, turns waiting for those who beg for help. The cult of the gods is based on this belief Bodies taken off, of which there are numerous examples in Sicily (especially in Trapani and Palermo), while similar customs are not lacking in the popular cult of other regions and provinces, as in the Brescia area, where there are several sanctuaries dedicated to the dead of plague, such as very ancient of Monticelli and that of Barbanie in Val Sabbia, destination of the pilgrimage of how many brides yearn for motherhood. It is believed in the resurrected dead, believed to be evil spirits, and some accounts recall the use of their immediate suppression. These superstitions show how popular religiosity is informed by the concept of three orders of spirits, celestial, infernal and earthly, of which the first object of veneration, the second of exorcism, the others (such as the fairies, the elf, the nightmare, the dwarves, etc.
Parties. – One of the main forms in which the cult of the saints is expressed is represented by feasts, which according to the time in which they occur, the vow they signify, the miracle or legend to which they refer, must be distinguished in seasonal feasts , expiatory and legendary. The former almost always coincide with the main operations of agriculture and pastoralism, as demonstrated by the special rites that take place in them: blessing of the animals (S. Antonio Abate); of the harvest (Assumption; St. John the Baptist); of the waters, of the bread (S. Nicola); eggs, butter, cheese (S. Bartolomeo), etc. The second, which are celebrated on the occasion of public calamities or to commemorate the narrow escape, are characterized by the intervention of penitents barefoot, half-naked, covered with thorns, hair shirts, etc .; the latter are often confused with the patronal feasts, indeed the legendary tale represents the title of the patronage and explains the characteristics of the processions (cavalcades of warriors, Madonna della Bruna in Matera; processions of virgins carrying the statue; parade of floats with the first fruits , S. Nardo a Larino) and various other ceremonies that vary from country to country. Pilgrimages to shrines outside the built-up area, and mostly in high places, are considered as extra-liturgical feasts; sometimes very far away. The pilgrimages to M. Pellegrino near Palermo, to the Madonna della Montagna on the Aspromonte, to Montevergine in prov. of Avellino, in San Michele on Monte S. Angelo, at the Incoronata near Foggia, at S. Nicandro Garganico, at the Madonna del Divino Amore at Castel di Leva (Rome), at the Sanctuary of the Trinity on M. Autore, to the Sanctuary of the Libera in Pratola Peligna, to the Madonna di S. Luca on Monte della Guardia near Bologna, to the Madonna della Neve on the summit of Rocciamelone, to the Sanctuary of S. Besso in the Canavese. Each pilgrimage has its particular traditional rites, which attest, through worship, the character of the sacred legend. The tarantolates go to the church of S. Paolo in Galatina (Salento) every year on June 29, performing the characteristic dance that must free them from the evil of the tarantula bite; in Santa Maria del Monte in Acquaformosa (Cosenza) the devotees, after reaching the summit on which the sanctuary is located, must throw a stone into the underlying ravine to obtain pardon. Among the pilgrims who go to Boccadiori (Bologna) on the day of the Assumption, we see a child dressed as an angel who, standing on the dorium of a donkey, it brings the oil barrels of the parishes of Castro and Traversa to the Madonna. Superstition claims that, for having taken part in this function, the child is destined to die within the year.