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Friday, March 4, 2011

Sicily and its folkloristic events: St Joseph's day in Scicli, Ragusa

Carpaccio, The Flight into EgyptImage by *clairity* via Flickr
Author: Francesca Tessarollo

Like all the other Italian regions, Sicily has much to offer to its visitors, and not only in terms of art, food and nature. Sicily is well-known for its wonderful sea, for its baroque monuments, but there is also one more feature that will make you fall in love with this region: its folklore and the traditional events that take place through the year in all of its cities.

One of the next traditional events to be held in Sicily will be "La cavalcata di San Giuseppe" (St Joseph's ride), which takes place every year in March in Scicli, a village in the province of Ragusa. Ragusa is a wonderful Sicilian province, a popular travel destination above all in summer, when you can enjoy the sea and the sun in well-known seaside resorts like Marina di Ragusa. However, visiting this city and the villages nearby is definitely very interesting also in all the other seasons, thanks to the historical and cultural heritage that these places preserve, and thanks to the folkloristic events that take place from spring to winter.

La cavalcata di San Giuseppe in Scicli is one of these events. The date to save is the 19th of March, when Scicli will be enlivened by a very peculiar feast, which has taken place for centuries. A religious and folkloristic event as well, the Cavalcata di san Giuseppe was inspired by a biblical event, i.e. the flight into Egypt, when Joseph was obliged to flee to Egypt with his wife Mary and Jesus to escape Herod's massacre of the innocents. On the 19th of March the flight into Egypt is recalled in Scicli through a historical re-enactment that always attracts many people, both Sicilians and tourists. Since the event to be recalled is a riding journey, the stars of the day are horses, which are made handsome through flower mantels, with a predominance of white and violet. The flower decorations of the mantels represent religious symbols as well as the coat of arms of the city. Horses also bear some bells, the aim of these bells being signalling their arrival, and are accompanied by horsemen in costume. Most horsemen walk near horses instead of mounting them down Scicli streets. This peculiar parade is headed by people disguised as the Holy Family, and the people that watch the parade greet and celebrate them with "pagghiari" (bonfires). When the parade is over, celebrations go on near St Joseph's Church: the best horse decorations are awarded and people celebrate cooking and eating pork meat.

The celebrations in honour of St Joseph are so important in Scicli because in the past local peasants used to pray St Joseph for water to grow broad beans and corn. In March, indeed, there were not many rainfalls in Scicli, and this could be a main problem for peasants. Thus people from Scicli were devoted to St Joseph, and an image of the saint was to be found in every house or cowshed.

If you want to take part in a traditional and interesting event, visit Ragusa the next 19th of March!

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About the Author

This article was written by Francesca Tessarollo with help from boutique hotels Italy. For more information, please visit holidays to Sicily or best hotel in Sicily.
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