Wednesday, 17 January 2018
Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Such as in many other Italian places, even in Salerno there is the tradition of burning large piles of wood on the evening of January 17th, the day in the Christian calendar is dedicated to Saint Anthony.

In fact, the tradition of Fucanoli (or blazes) is much older, planting roots in pagan cults that Indo based their traditions on the cycle of nature. One of the clearest traces of the tradition of Fucanoli comes from the Roman imperial period. As Ovid tells us, the last two weeks of January were devoted to sementine Holidays, during which agricultural activities are interrupted because the cold does not allow to plow the land properly.

During the Holidays, farmers did tribute to the goddess Tellus (Earth Mother) and Ceres with animal sacrifices and gifts. There was also the custom to light large auspicious pyres: it was believed that fire, natural element at the same time destroying and purifying, propitiates the arrival of Spring.

With the expansion of Christianity properties formerly assigned to the pagan gods were transferred to the figure of St. Anthony, an Egyptian hermit who lived in the third century. A.D. who died on 17 January. St. Anthony, besides being considered protector of animals, was famous as a healer of Herpes Zoster, a viral disease popularly called shingles, "Fire of St. Anthony".

The celebration

Until a few years ago the tradition of the blaze was widespread in the area, especially in the eastern suburbs that until the Second World War were mainly occupied by large agricultural expanses. Small and large bonfires were lit to the sound of phrases like "Sant'Antuono Sant'Antuono, pigliate 'o viecchio e ddance 'o nnuovo!"

Particularly characteristic is the blaze that since some years is held in Porticciolo of Pastena, organized entirely by the local community with the support of young artists from Salerno. Singing and dancing, art exhibitions frame the big bonfire that reconciles the community with its ancient traditions.

Many areas of the city, Salerno

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