The “Festa dei Gigli” in Nola:
A tribute to tradition and community
The “Festa dei Gigli” in Nola is one of the most impressive and lively events in the Italian region of Campania. This annual celebration, which takes place on June 22 and usually lasts eight days, is a celebration of tradition, faith and community. With its magnificent parade, impressive Gigli towers and passionate festivities, the “Festa dei Gigli” captivates locals and visitors alike.
The date and the venue
The “Festa dei Gigli” takes place every year in Nola, a charming town in the province of Naples. The exact date is June 22, but the celebrations usually span eight days, culminating on the evening of the main day. These long celebrations allow residents and visitors to experience the tradition in all its glory.
The highlight of the festival is the gigantic parade in which the imposing Gigli towers are carried through the narrow streets of Nola. However, the festivities are varied and include religious rituals, musical performances, culinary delights and much more.
The history of the Festa dei Gigli
The origins of the “Festa dei Gigli” date back to the 13th century and are closely linked to a legend. It is said that St. Paulinus of Nola, the patron saint of the city, was once captured by North African pirates. During his imprisonment, he vowed that if released, he would hold a feast in honor of the Madonna dell’Arco, whom he had venerated during his captivity.
Upon his return to Nola, he fulfilled his vow and thus the “Festa dei Gigli” was born. The name “Gigli” means “lilies” in Italian and refers to the magnificent towers carried during the procession and decorated with lily flowers.
The Gigli towers and their importance
The Gigli towers are undoubtedly the most outstanding feature of the “Festa dei Gigli”. These towers are gigantic wooden structures, often more than 20 meters high and supported by dozens of men. Each tower is artistically designed and decorated with colorful flowers, ribbons and religious symbols.
The Gigli Towers represent the burdens that St. Pauline and his fellow prisoners had to carry on their shoulders while they were in captivity. Carrying these giant towers through the streets of Nola is an impressive display of strength, coordination and community spirit.
The preparations and rituals
Preparations for the “Festa dei Gigli” begin months in advance. Each of the eight contrade (neighborhoods) into which Nola is divided is responsible for the design and construction of its own Giglio Tower. This is an exciting and competitive process where the Contradaioli proudly display their craftsmanship.
On the eve of the main day, the Gigli towers are blessed in a solemn ceremony. St. Paul and the Madonna dell’Arco are carried in procession through the streets of Nola, accompanied by music and prayers. It is a moving moment that highlights the faith and devotion of the locals.
The Gigli move
The highlight of the “Festa dei Gigli” is undoubtedly the gigantic parade that passes through the streets of Nola on the evening of June 22. The Gigli towers, carried by strong men, are the main attraction of the parade. They are accompanied by historically dressed contradaioli, musicians, dancers and other festival participants.
The route of the parade leads through narrow streets, past historic buildings and squares lined with spectators. The atmosphere is electrifying as people cheer and admire the Gigli towers carried majestically through the city. It is an impressive spectacle that captivates the inhabitants of Nola and their guests alike.
Music, dance and culinary
However, the “Festa dei Gigli” is not just a parade. The streets of Nola will be filled with music and dance throughout the festival week. There are numerous concerts, folklore performances and folk festivals where locals perform traditional dances and play their musical instruments.
The culinary side of the festival is also impressive. Visitors can taste local specialties and delicacies, including pizza, pasta, arancini and a variety of desserts. The restaurants and street stalls offer a wide range of delicacies to tantalize the taste buds.
The community and the meaning of the feast
The “Festa dei Gigli” is not only a celebration of tradition and faith, but also a celebration of community. During the preparations and festivities, the people of Nola come together to work, celebrate and honor their city.
The event strengthens the bonds between the contrade and promotes cohesion within the community. The people of Nola are proud of their history and traditions, and the “Festa dei Gigli” is an opportunity to show this attachment with pride.
An unforgettable experience
The “Festa dei Gigli” in Nola is undoubtedly an unforgettable experience for those lucky enough to attend. It is a celebration that captivates the senses and touches the hearts. The magnificent Gigli towers, the passionate festivities and the deep connection with history and community make this festival a unique cultural experience. It’s a tribute to tradition and community that visitors will remember forever.
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Photos: © fotolia