Sir Joseph Noel Paton - The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania - Google Art Project 2


In the town of Fabriano and its surroundings, there were many traditions and legends related to the festival of St. John the Baptist, such as those of the night prior to this event. According to prof. Oreste Marcoaldi the population believed that on that night the witches roam. Moreover, the mood of the screws, in other words the body fluids of plants, were transformed into must thanks to the dew-called “of St. John.” It was considered a powerful medicine to treat any type of skin disorder. Of course, to the disappointment of those who believed, none healed. The farmers in this night once they had done a bunch with three ears of wheat or rotten sick, threw him into the river to release and remove all weeds from their field of wheat that would soon have been reaped. The evening before the feast of the Holy was used then, as today even though there is less and less people who do it, to go and collect various species of herbs “odorous” and usually the collection was carried out by women, then for to rest, immersed in water, all night , the next morning the people was washed with the same water. The morning of the Feast of the shepherds brought their flocks before dawn to wash in the river as a good omen to have a rich production of cheese, wool and to find rich meadows of grass for grazing. These traditions we find them, though with different variations across Europe, according to some as the feast of the Santo takes place a few days after the summer solstice, traditions associated with this astronomical phenomenon have been merged into this important event, namely that of St. John the Baptist. The most common usages in the various countries are those that involve; bonfires, as in Ireland, Scandinavia or in some areas of Spain, wash with dew, the collection of herbs and flowers. Often there is the widespread belief that extraordinary events occur on this night. This climate was also influenced great men of culture such as William Shakespeare, the famous English poet and playwright, who had set his great work on this occasion, namely the “Dream of a Midsummer Night” (A Midsummer Night’s Dream). To understand how these traditions have spread, just go to the site of wikipedia and you realize that there are many parts of the world. You can see that these practices are not widespread only in Europe but also in other countries such as Brazil or Canada, where reportedly by the Jesuits, the first celebration was held in that place, thanks to the French settlers on the shores of St. Lawrence River on the evening of June 23, 1636 with the lighting of a bonfire and five cannon shots. Returning to deal traditions Fabriano we can speak of the “Race of the Barberi” exposed by prof. Oreste Marcoaldi in his writings. It was described as the most popular entertainment in the feast of St. John the Baptist. The race horses were horses, and the name was originally “of Barbary”, ie the starting point of the race (at the time St. Martin’s former convent of St. Anthony outside the city of Pisa). The race began after the clear shot of a firecracker, he walked to gallop over tightening the old (at the time Via Cavour), once you reached the finish line (Piazza San Domenico in that period Gioberti) first arrived broke a tightrope and colored, who dyed his chest determining with certainty the winner. In point of arrival there was a stage with a delegation went to the winner a cash prize, the prize or a canvas painting of a horse race, with whom the award-winning triumphantly walked the streets of the city cheered by the crowd. From these other customs as we can give an account like was rich the traditions of our land.

Paolo Carnevali (published in L’AZIONE of 2011)

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