Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Ndocciata is an ancient Yuletide festival celebrated in southern Italy.

"Ndocce" is a word meaning "torch". The ndocce are made of dried marsh rushes (also known as cattails or bullrushes) held together by twine and bound to a length silver fir pine about 10 to 12 fee in length.  Many times, a horzontal piece of silver fir pine is used, and the ndocce tied to it in the form of a fan.  Up to eighttorches can be arranged this way. The more compact the rushes are tied, the longer they last.

On Yule's Eve, teenage boys and men dress all in black, complete with cape and hood or hat. They hold the ndocce over their shoulders like a yoke, the torches behind them. They parade through their town or village in what is called the "River of Fire", accompanied by male singers and male bell-ringers.

The procession ends in the town square at a bonfire. The bonfire is meant to drive off evil, and people throw into the fire pieces of paper or light wood representing anything negative in their life.

The Ndocciata festival dates back to the pagan era.  Leadership and power in the Samnite tribes shifted during this night, and the ndocce warded off evil and provided light during these shifts.

Legend has it that a boy should stand before the home of someone he loves, in order to win their heart.

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