10 February, 2013

Il Carnevale d'Ivrea non è per i poppanti!

© Angela M. Lobefaro
All Rights Reserved


Battle of the Oranges
A scene from the "Battle of the Oranges"

Ivrea today is best known for its peculiar traditional carnival. The core celebration centres around the locally famous Battle of the Oranges. This involves some thousands of townspeople, divided into nine combat teams, who throw oranges at each other — with considerable violence — during the traditional carnival days: Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. The carnival takes place in February; it ends on the night of "Fat Tuesday" with a solemn funeral. Traditionally, at the end of the silent march that closes the carnival the "General" says goodbye to everyone with the traditional phrase "See you next Fat Thursday at 1 p.m."

One of the citizens is elected Mugnaia. The legend has that a miller's daughter (the eponymous "Mugnaia") once refused to accept the "right" of the local duke to spend a night with each newly wed woman and chopped his head off. Today the carriages represent the duke's guard and the orange throwers the revolutionaries. Spectators are not allowed to throw oranges, but visitors are allowed to enlist in the teams. If they wear a red hat they are considered part of the revolutionaries and will not have oranges thrown at them.

Before oranges were thrown they used apples. Later, oranges came to represent the duke's chopped off head. The origin of the tradition to throw oranges is not well understood, particularly as oranges do not grow in the foothills of the Italian Alps and must be imported from Sicily. In 1994 an estimate of 265,000 kilograms (580,000 lb) of oranges were brought to the city, mainly coming from the leftovers of the winter crop in southern Italy.

Thanks to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivrea

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