La Candlemas: origins and traditions of a Campania festival

by Stories of Naples

Candlemas is the festival of candles. The last of the holidays Christmas. The day the little one Jesus is presented to the Temple according to the rules of Jewish prescriptions. In fact, Christmas does not end with the epiphany, as some mistakenly believe, but with Candlemas so much so that the popular saying goes:

"In Pasca Epifania all" and feasts go away. He answered Cannelora: No, I'm still standing! ".

The February 2, then, you disassemble the Creche.

In our ancient tradition Candlemas is linked to the end of winter: an optimistic vision considering that they are still missing two months to spring. Yet the saying speaks clearly: "Candlemas summer dinte and vierne fora".

Candelora festa

Candlemas in the Campania tradition

There party of candles it has very ancient origins that go as far as the pagan feasts of the gods Lupercals and Ceres.

In the Lupercals teenagers sacrificed themselves in honor "of the giving god”While in the feasts in honor of Ceres virgins used to hold lighted candles. The party was sanctioned by Pope Gelasio Gaetani in the 492 and touted by Pope Sergius I to symbolize the light of Jesus Christ, welcomed with the Virgin Mary in the Temple by the old Simeon.

There Campania tradition provided for people to go to church for stock up on blessed candles that could have been ignited in their own homes like propitiatory signs thanks in case of illness of some family member. This custom, in fact, links the day of Candlemas to the feast of San Biagio which is celebrated on February 3. San Biagio also propagates the arrival of summer:

"San Biase, 'o sole p' 'and houses".

Once the feast of San Biagio it took place in angioina Incoronata church (church built by the famous queen Joan I of Anjou) to via Medina. The faithful of the saint went to church to get a bottle of blessed oil with which you will it anointed the throat, nose and ears in case of illness. San Biagio is the saint of ENT doctors.

Madonna di Montevergine
Madonna of Montevergine

The Montevergine pilgrimage

In Campania, Candlemas is also linked to one extraordinary pilgrimage which takes place at Montevergine, in Irpinia, namely the procession of the "femminielli". An ancient ritual that dates back to the times of black goddess Cibale when the Coribanti, ie i eunuch priests of the goddess, they went to the area where the Christian temple now stands and offered their sexuality to the goddess by castrating themselves. In this way they acquired a new identity. With colorful dresses crossed the streets under the astonished gaze of the community. One day, two young homosexuals, they came tied to a tree to punish them for their provocation. Our Lady intervened and there saved. That's why Campania homosexuals are devoted to Mother Schiavona and this is why - despite ecclesial resistance - the "femminielli”And homosexuals go to Montevergine in honor of their patron saint and in memory of that ancient one gay pride ante litteram.

Obviously, it is not sure that the summer will begin on February 2 because the saying goes sternly:

"When he arrives 'in Cannelora d' 'a vernata simme fora, but si chiove or ména viento, forty juorne' and male tiempo".

So keep still on hand scarves and coats and in the meantime console yourself with a nice slice of Migliaccio: Candlemas cake. And please: remove the Creche because it makes dust.

Alessandro Basso 

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