Italy Folklore Part 3

Italy Folklore Part 3

Calendimarzo and Calendimaggio (see May), S. Giovanni and other festivities have their special rites, including fires or bonfires or fires (see fire); and others have country feasts with which agricultural works open or close, and mainly those of harvesting crops and olives. In the latter circumstance the peasants detach a large olive branch and bring it, as a sign of homage, to the house of the owner of the estate.

On the occasion of the harvest, the leader of the group of reapers knots the first handpieces of ears on the cross and offers them, somewhere (Puglia) to the owner, to attach them to the bed; in some other (Bologna) to the Madonna. According to an old custom of Cassano (Calabria) the reapers, veterans of mowing, with weathervanes of ears and preceded by a drum and cennamelle, led the farmer in triumph. In some regions (Abruzzo, Lucania, etc.) the use of the  incanate persists , which consists in taunting ( giving the screams ) by the reapers, with improperities, invectives and sarcasms, those who pass through the contiguous streets.

On the solemnities of Christmas, Epiphany and Easter, however, the people revive old ritual representations on a liturgical theme, such as the mobile crib, the Magi, the Passion. The drama of the Nativity is remembered in a small village in Calabria, by the local shepherds and peasants, who, bringing gifts to the Child, recite their part one at a time in front of the grotto specially built in the church; of the drama of the Magi in Bologna, in the archpriest church of S. Giovanni in Calamosco; and of the drama of the Passion a little everywhere. In Syracuse on Palm Sunday a man, who personifies Jesus, goes around the streets on a donkey, accompanied by the crowd, who shouts and waves olive branches. In the square of Adrano (Catania) on Easter Sunday, the  Diavolata is staged, so called by the devils fighting with the apostles, the angels and St. Michael, which brings back the final triumph over Lucifer. Relics of liturgical and sacred representations are seen here and there, in the processions of Thursday and Good Friday, which take different names according to the theme and characters, such as: procession of Christ to the Column, of the dead Christ, of the Marys, of the Bare or of the Mysteries, of Cyrene, of the Jews. The procession of devotees accompanies a man who acts as Judas to Carovigno; to Martina Franca, a character representing Cyrene, and to Gioia, the Jews, some of whom carry the tools of crucifixion (nails, hammers, ladders), others pretend to hit and beat Jesus. of Messina) is called the feast of the Jews the raid that during the evenings of Thursday and Good Friday some camouflaged commoners do along the streets of the town. Nor are there lacking the scourged or flagellants (Nocera Terinese, etc.) who, with disciplines or other devices, whip themselves to blood, during the visit to the tombs.

According to Searchforpublicschools, plastic paintings are sometimes added to the figurative processions, representing the scenes of the Passion in the tombs built along the path of the processioners and brotherhoods.

Carnival is celebrated with masquerades on floats, some of them of historical and mythical subjects, pompous and airy the ancient triumphs; others of a satirical nature, which mock arts, crafts and professions. Although they have fallen from their old splendor, the main Italian masks are: Arlecchino in Bergamo, Meneghino and Cecca in Milan, Giacometta and Gianduia in Turin, Persuttino, the Bulo and the Bula in Bologna, Pantalone in Venice, the Marquis in Genoa, Stenterello in Florence, Pulcinella in Naples, Coviello in Calabria, Pasquino in Palermo. The masks organize outdoor representations, called, according to the places, contrasts, wills, gypsies, bruscelli, farces, zupinate, etc.

Characteristic ceremony of Lent is that of  Segavecchia , which as the name implies, means the sacrifice of the old woman, depicted by a puppet. The rite is widespread in the different provinces of Italy with small variations in the details of the staging. In Carlentini (Sicily) the  Quarantana  or  Mamma – servant  is a character in flesh and blood, who in the evening goes around the streets with a scythe in one hand and a cow bell in the other.

Popular literature. – Tales, songs, proverbs, riddles have a considerable place among the various manifestations of the people’s thought and life. The fund of the so-called accounts, or narratives of a wonderful nature, can be said to be common to all of Italy, and often also to several European countries, with greater or lesser local imprints. Less common is the background of historical legends, whose cycles (Attila, Theodoric, Alboin, etc.) are almost localized. Emanation of knightly legends whose echoes in Italy are found in various regions (Abruzzo, Campania, Sicily) are the representations of the paladins, otherwise called the Opera dei pupi, the puppet theater, etc. Approximately two thirds of the paremyographic heritage is found in almost all regions; the rest has regional and sometimes inter-regional characteristics.

Following the studies of D’Ancona, Nigra and others, the Italian folk songs in their double form of epic or narrative songs and lyric songs, can be distributed in two large geographical areas, namely those of the first form in the part northern part of the continent, and those of the second in the southern part. The cycle of narrative songs radiates from Piedmont in Lombardy, Emilia, Veneto, and despite having as its border the western Alps and the crests of the Ligurian and Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, and also extending to the Adriatic Sea near Rimini spreads its offshoots in an intense form in the Lucchesia, and in the stretch of territory that goes from the Tyrrhenian to the Arno and in an attenuated form in the Aretino, in the Sienese, in the Maremma, in the Roman countryside, in the maritime Campania, in eastern Sicily. The cycle of lyrical songs radiating from the Sicilian center through the southern and central continent to Tuscany and Marche, crosses the Apennines near Pistoia, spreads into Romagna, penetrates the Po Valley (Monferrato, Lombardy, Veneto) and further north, in Trentino, Friuli, Istria. This distribution tends every day to be better specified in its elements and also corrected by new research.

Italy Folklore 3