Cultura & Folklore

Sagra del Mandorlo in Fiore


Sagra del Mandorlo in Fiore 2015, programme
The 70th Sagra del Mandorlo in Fiore 2015 (Festival of the Blossoming Almond Trees) will be held in Agrigento from 12th to 22nd February, 2015. An intense agenda of activities for a festival of Sicilian folklore that attracts tourists and curious people every year. This annual event entwine with other initiatives, such as the 60th International Festival of Folklore, the 15th International Festival “Children of the World”, the 5th European Dance Caravan. A busy schedule of appointments and moments of pure fun to allow oneself to be contaminated by “Sicilianity”. The programme of events is as follows:

International Festival “Children of the World”
10.30: Meeting at the Casa della Speranza, “Il Sorriso” Centre, AIAS and Hospital pediatric ward

International Festival “Children of the World”
16.30: Pirandello Theatre: meeting with Town Authorities
17.30: Grand parade with folk groups from Piazza Pirandello to Piazza Cavour
20.30: Pirandello Theatre: folk group performances

International Festival “Children of the World”
10.00: peace and fraternity walk through the Valley of the Temples
20.30: Archeological Museum: the “Claudio Criscenzo” award and group performances

International Festival “Children of the World”
09.30: procession from Piazza don Minzoni to Piazza Cavour
12.30: international folk group performance
16.30: Church of the Madonna of Providence: prayers for peoples in peace
Sicilian folklore – Carts
09.30: Procession from Piazza Pirandello to Piazza Cavour with regional folklore groups, the historical parade and Sicilian carts
15.00: Piazza Cavour: performance by regional folklore groups

11.00: Piazza Cavour: International folklore
18.00: Tempio della Concordia: Lighting of the tripod
11.00: Piazza Cavour: International folklore
17.00: Torchlight procession of friendship

11.00: Piazza Cavour: International folklore

11.00: Prefecture: Authorities welcome for representatives of the international folk groups
11.00: Piazza Cavour: International folklore
16.00: Pirandello Theatre: 60th International Festival of Folklore and European Dance Caravan
21.00: Pirandello Theatre: 60th International Festival of Folklore and European Dance Caravan

11.00: Piazza Cavour: International folklore
16.00: Pirandello Theatre: 60th International Festival of Folklore
21.00: Pirandello Theatre: 60th International Festival of Folklore

Alle 9.00: Sfilata da Piazza Pirandello allo stadio Esseneto
Alle 14.00: Valle dei templi: Spettacolo conclusivo e consegna premi e Tempio d’oro

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The Festival of S. Agatha

s. agata

The Festival of St. Agatha, 3rd – 5th February 2015, the sacred and folkloristic face of Catania

Catania is celebrating! From the 3rd to the 5th of February the town will come alive to celebrate its Patron Saint, St. Agatha, whose festival is known throughout the world for the spectacular folklore that has characterized this feast day for centuries.

The festival of St. Agatha officially starts on February 3rd with the “offering of candles” during a procession known as “della luminaria” (of light), which leaves from the Church of St. Agatha (S. Agata alla Fornace) and terminates at the Cathedral. The day ends with a firework show in the striking Cathedral Square (Piazza Duomo). The most important religious, civil and military authorities attend the procession. Two eighteenth-century carriages that once belonged to the Senate that governed the town, and eleven “candelores”, large candles that represent the corporations or trades are carried in the procession and admired by the faithful and by onlookers.

The second day of the festival – February 4th – is an intense programme of activities that starts at 6.00 am and fills the day. Three different keys, kept by the treasurer, the master of ceremonies and the prior of the Cathedral chapter, are used to open the iron gate that guards the relics of the Patron Saint of Catania. The Saint’s bust, covered in gold and precious gemstones, is raised onto the renaissance reliquary float – “a vara” in Sicilian dialect – lined with red velvet, symbolising the colour of the martyr’s blood, or the colour of kings. The solemn Holy Mass of Dawn (“Messa dell’Aurora”), celebrated by His Excellency the Archbishop, greets the Saint and opens the procession through the streets, announced by festive gunshots.

The sites of martyrdom and the vicissitudes of the Saint’s life are revisited throughout the votive day: from the cathedral to the “marina”, and up to the column of the plague, which recalls the miracle the Saint performed in 1743, when Catania was protected from the epidemic. The devoted followers wear the traditional “white sack”, a votive cloth gown that covers the body down to the ankles and is tied at the waist by a rope, a black velvet cap, white gloves and a white handkerchief to wave during the celebrations. A crowd of more than four thousand people follow the float through the streets, replying “Cettu, Cettu” to the call “Are you all, all devotees?” that echoes through the town, uniting everyone in a common embrace.

The third and last day, February 5th, is Saint Agatha’s day and starts with the pontifical that opens the procession that weaves its way through other “inner” parts of the town. The most awaited moment is the passage along Via di San Giuliano, the most dangerous moment in the procession due to the slope. A test of courage for the “citizens”, interpreted – depending on the outcome of the climb – as a sign from Heaven, a good or bad omen for the whole year. At dawn on the 6th, the float with the relics reaches Via Crociferi. This is the moment when the Saint greets the town before the festivities end. All night long, the crowd braved the cold temperature, shouting “Viva Sant’Agata” in a moment imbued with spirituality. And then, in a moment of silence, the angelic and soothing chant of the cloistered nuns rises into the air. The firework display of February 6th officially closes the celebrations, with the float returning to the Cathedral.

How not to be captivated by the magical atmosphere of the St. Agatha festivities!