Traditional festivals from the Immaculate to Epiphany
Christmas is a magical time to live in Tuscany where you can breathe the authentic atmosphere of winter festivities.
Torchlight processions and ritual fires, secular auspicious rites, probable remnants of ancient festivities for the winter solstice are celebrated especially in the mountain area. So the countless bonfires that light up almost to help the rising sun and illuminate the night of Christmas.
Even among the walls of Lucca, next to evening shopping, aperitifs and greetings with friends in the premises open until late, relive the traditions that bring us back to the warm atmosphere of the Christmas holidays.
The day of the Immaculate Conception,
when trees and nativity scenes are set up, some events mark the period of the festivities. On 8 December at 10:30 am from the church of San Pietro Somaldi starts the procession that pays tribute to the statue of Madonna dello Stellario, in Piazza San Francesco
On 13 December, at 17:30 from the church of San Paolino, the Corteo delle Lucie reaches the church of San Michele in foro. The young "Lucie" dressed in white and crowned, illuminate the street with their small and delicate procession of candles. After the service, at 18:00, cookies in the square for all children
All for the children even the feast of the Epiphany!
In Lucca, January 5, at 17:30, the Three Kings on three majestic horses, in regal clothes, could only get out of the Walls, from the descent of the bastion of Santa Maria in search of the Child and meet several characters who will accompany them and help them in their search: the guards of the city in historical uniform who will escort them to Via Beccheria and the people. In Piazza San Michele they will find Herod and finally an Angel who will take them to the church of San Paolino where they will give gold, incense and myrrh, they will adore him and leave again (in case of rain in reduced form in the church of San Michele).
instead, will "land", as every year in Piazza San Francesco on January 6 in the early afternoon, giving sweets to all after having gone around the villages of the plains and hills, the night before, in the traditional "befanate" touring with traditional songs.
This tradition is still alive and vital today and it is not difficult to meet, on the evening of January 5, groups of singers in small towns, either immediately outside the city, or in countries.
This is a song of questua connected to the annual cycle of vegetation: the abundance of gifts offered will ensure a good harvest in the coming year. The songs, usually linked to the agricultural world, are those that most easily survive.
In the evening
the group of Befani singers meets in a fixed place and from there, from dusk until late at night, leaves to propose the song to each house, starting, in this tour, from the cottages furthest from the country, then continuing to the house of the priest and that of the Mayor, and so on, all the others. At least one of them has an instrument with him. Guided by the musician who precedes her by a few steps, the Befana (often a man disguised as a woman) in some cases alone, in others accompanied by his wife, the Befanotto, approaches the doors accompanied by singers. The procession asks permission to perform the song and, at the end, the hosts open the door and offer the specially prepared gifts that are collected in a basket carried by two men, or in a corbello on the back of a donkey. After the brief interruption the song is resumed thanking for what has been obtained. In case of no offer, instead of thanking you throw an invective. Since this is a ritual that has its roots in the peasant world, the curse is to hit the nearest interests of the housewife, such as the chicken coop, one of the most popular texts in Lucca, says in fact:
"And if nothing happens, we'll pray for the fox chickens and the beech-martens that are all eaten there".
If there is a young or less young woman in the house who is not yet married, the invective is transferred to her:
"And if nothing does not give us away crying we will leave Our Lady we will pray that her husband will not find.
On her night tour, on the night of January 5, she will be in Lucca starting from Porta di Borgo at 5pm to walk along the narrow steet of the old town and reach Piazza san Michele at 7pm, anc then tour in the countryside villages: Maggiano, along the banks of the Serchio river and in Aquilea on the hills.