The Historical Carnival of Santhià

the papier-mache float built by the society "Moncravot". photo CNP

the papier-mache float built by the society “Moncravot”. photo CNP

From our Special Correspondent in Italy

The Historical Carnival of Santhià, a little city near Turin, is one of the most ancient Carnival in Italy and it is still strongly linked to its ancient traditions, which come back to the 1000 AD. It is still celebrated with parades of great allegorical floats made of papier-mache.

Masks, costumes, parades and public events characterize Carnival, a Christian celebration which has become more and more popular over the years. The typical Carnival of Venice, the colorful Carnaval de Rio and The Mardi-Gras of New Orleans have become famous all around the world, attracting thousands of people and tourists, who have sometimes contributed to transform these celebrations into more touristic and commercial events, losing their local traditions and folklore.

Sabrina Bellone and Marco Carletto, Majutin and Stevulin 2017. photo: Pro loco Santhià and Antica Società Fagiuolesca

Sabrina Bellone and Marco Carletto, Majutin and Stevulin 2017. photo: Pro loco Santhià and Antica Società Fagiuolesca

The Carnival of Santhià cannot be compared to the biggest and most popular celebrations in the world, however it is still proud of its unique history and tradition. The association “Pro-Loco Santhià” along with the “Ancient Bean Society” and the whole city of Santhià organize this event every year, helped by the people of the city. Alessandro Caprioglio, member of the “Ancient Bean Society” says: “ We have just one goal: Santhià, its Carnival and its people. We want our Carnival and our city to grow up and improve every year”.

the float made by the society "Butalas" parading on Sunday. photo CNP

the float made by the society “Butalas” parading on Sunday. photo CNP

The Carnival of Santhià lasts four days from Saturday to Tuesday. The whole event has been opened on Saturday night, when the mayor of the city has handed the keys of Santhià to the two traditional masks of the Carnival, Stevulin ‘dla Plisera and Majutin dal Pampardu, which are represented every year by a different couple of citizens. According to the legend Stevulin and Majutin were two farmers who arrived in Santhià during their honey-moon, for this occasion, pushed by the people, the local lord decided to let them govern the city three days.

The floats made by the society "Rubinet". photo: CNP

The floats made by the society “Rubinet”. photo: CNP

The Carnival has officially started yesterday, morning when the statue of Gianduja (symbol of the soul of Carnival) was placed in Piazza Roma, the central square of Santhià. During the afternoon, the two marching bands of the city along with the “Pifferi and Drums Corp” and the allegorical floats have paraded through the streets of the city. The floats represents various themes and are built and prepared by different Carnival societies called “compagnie carnevalesche”, which are from Santhià and the surroundings. They are usually formed by groups of friends who love the Carnival and want to be part of the event. Every group starts to work on its project from the summer, in order to get ready for the Carnival, which is usually celebrated in February. More than 2000 people masked who belonged to the different societies have paraded during the first day. The societies participate to the Carnival in order to win the final prize for the best float.

The cooper pots where the beans were cooked. photo: CNP

The cooper pots where the beans were cooked. photo: CNP

Today, the great “Beans delivery” (Fagiolata in Italian) has occurred in the city. More than 20.000 portions of beans and salami have been distributed for free to the people. The beans have been cooked in 150 copper pots blessed by the parish priest. The “Beans delivery” was prepared and organized by “Ancient Bean Society” (Antica Società Fagiuolesca in Italian), that since the XV century manage the Carnival.. “It is the most important moment of the celebration – said Fabrizio Pistono, president of the “Ancient Bean Society” – it is amazing to wake up before the sunrise, in order to light the fires and prepare the pots for the delivering”. The “Fagiolata” will also try attempt to the Guinness World Record for its 20.000 portions of beans and salami.  In the evening the second great float parade will take place.

People waiting for their beans and salami. photo: CNP

 

Tomorrow, the Mardi-Gras, the people will participate to traditional medieval games called the “Gianduja’s ancient games”, while during the afternoon after the third float parade, the organizers will award the best allegorical floats of the Carnival. In the evening, the Funfi, one of the Carnival societies, will burn a statue made of papier-mache, called  “Babaciu” (it literally means doll), in the main square of the city. The “Babaciu” symbolizes the soul of Carnival, which “dies” before the Ash Wednesday, in order to return the next year.

For the people of Santhià, the end of Carnival is a very sad and touching moment, as they deeply love this celebration, which has become part of their own lives. However, when the fire is extinguished and the “Babaciu” lies on the ground completely burnt, the sadness is swept away by the last dance (called “monferrina”), which involves all the people in the square, as by dancing and smiling it is the best way to say goodbye to the Carnival.

To know more about The Historical Carnival of Santhià, here is the official website: http://www.carnevaledisanthia.it/

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