Folk Relics in the Sangro Valley
Please bear with me for this bombastic beginning, but it is exactly this indignation that can excite our desire to dig into the age-old substrates of popular tradition, and to listen to the low-key, ghostly voice of time, which in our obscure rural settlements, forgotten by the world, now sounds like despairing.
The field where my research is mainly applied is that of the "contrade" of the town of Lanciano; that small valley lying at the foot of the hills called Sant'Onofrio, Santa Margherita, della Defensa and "della strega", an area which was in the old times called "Selva Rotonda", due to its special geographical form and the thick woods that still today partly cover the territory. Also, I would like to point out that the history of these contrade has very little to share with the town of Lanciano, for it only belongs to the same administrative jurisdiction.
Just as an example, still today in folk religious rites a peculiar vision of nature stands out, based on a pantheistic assumption of the elements of air, fire, earth and water. In a pristine Christmas tradition there is the custom of lighting a fire with branches of the oaktree, which is sacred in a pagan and magical dimension of religion, and to invite the youngest member of the family to jump over it repeatedly, as a gesture of purification for the whole clan. The eldest member of the family, in his turn, contemplates the sky, while holding an oil lantern, during the Holy Night, with an aim to propitiate a good harvest for the following year.
BEARING FIRE IN MOUTH'!
AND THIS CURRENT WATER,
KILL THE BURNING FIRE ".
When healing is taking place, the woman's voice becomes very low, to avoid anybody to hear the words. There are hundreds of such formulas, each aiming at healing some special "accident". They are accompanied by a number of special gestures, and their efficaciousness is somehow mysteriously guaranteed. Granddaughters inherit this special power through oral transmission and memorizing details. The example here reported is connected to water, but the elements and the details mentioned in the formulas are the most varied.
And it is my special anguish that there should be no youth movements aiming at a global conservation of such traditional realities in my area. I would like to ask those of you who are reading my words, and who share my interests, to get in touch for job proposals, advice, or just encouragement. I am already working to this aim.
Also, to those who thought the beginning was exagerated, I would like to ask not to consider me a boring sarcastic voice. My friends well know what I stand for, or what I would like to stand for, for the people of my age. And in the hope something will rise from the ashes ...