Sicilian Festivals, Traditional Celebration and Events all year around

In an land with such rich and complex history as Sicily’s, the variety and number of cultural events and local traditional festivals is enormous. Whatever the seasons and everywhere in the island, there will always be something going on.

All towns and villages have its patron saint who is duly celebrated with processions through the streets, spectacular firework displays and plenty of traditional food and drink. Two of the most spectacular and important are in Palermo and Catania, dedicated to Santa Rosalia (U’ Fistinu every in the first half of July fro 3-5 days) and Sant’Agata (celebrated twice a year, first on 3rd – 5th February, to remember her martyrdom, and on 17th August, records the return of her mortal remains to the city from Constantinople in 1126) Both remembered with enormous celebrations and huge crowds coming from all over the world.

The Good Friday and Easter in Sicily “Venerdi’ Santo e la Pasqua”

Easter certainly is a great time to come to Sicily, here is where mother nature shows her first signs of Springtime or “Primavera”. Here pagan traditions religious festivities that have been incorporated to celebrate “the awakening of life ” both spiritual and physical.

“The masked processions on Good Friday” are certainly some of the most moving expressions of Sicilian religious culture, and can be seen in towns, city boroughs, large and small villages, all over in Sicily.
One of the most picturesque is the “ Processione dei Misteri” of Trapani”, in which twenty wooden sculptures are carried through the town.

Very unique are the “Ballo dei Diavoli” at Prizzi (PA)

Man can not live on religion alone, however, and even the most revered saint may be forgotten when a Sicilian’s stomach begins to rumble. As a result God Food is celebrated with earnest devotion, and most small towns and villages in the hinterland spend a few days every year celebrating the fruits of their agricultural labours, whether it be artichokes in Cerda, pistachios in Bronte, Slow Food capers in Salina, cous cous in San Vito Lo Capo or sausages in Caccamo. These sagre – food festivals – offer an excellent excuse to visit places you might otherwise have neglected while having an excellent meal at the same time!

While most Sicilian towns can claim a patron saint or a gastronomic speciality others prefer to celebrate their uniqueness in other ways. Piazza Armerina, for example, celebrates its history with a Norman-Arab jousting tournament, Caltagirone annually illuminates the 142 ceramic-tiled steps of the Scala di Santa Maria del Monte, Sciacca, Acireale and other towns launch themselves into a good old pagan carnevale, San Vito Lo Capo puts on a kite festival, while Noto invites artists to cover one of its streets with petal mosaics – the Infiorata.

Culture with a capital C is also wonderfully varied and includes international opera seasons at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo and the Teatro Massimo Bellini in Catania, Greek theatre festivals and other events in the original theatres of Syracuse, Segesta and Tindari, and a WOMAD festival in Taormina.

So, if you really want to get under Sicily’s skin and learn what makes its people tick, just turn up to one of these events (or one of the hundreds we haven’t had space to mention here) and let yourself be swept along by the passion, the sense of fun and the hospitality of your fellow revellers.

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The Harvest Festival of Raddusa at Raddusa (Province of Catania)

Surrounded by a golden sea of corn and warmed by the Sicilian sun, Raddusa, in the province of Catania, is the town of grain. This corner of the island seems timeless; its inhabitants live in the countryside and work the land, eating the fruits of their own labor. The Harvest Festival is very much a representation of Sicily and takes place on the second weekend of September. The event involves the whole town and intrigues the many tourists as well. The festival is a commemoration of the ancient crafts of Sicilian farmers during the 1950s. In the square of the Unknown Soldier some old crafts are demonstrated, such as: “u metiri,” (meaning “the harvest” in Sicilian) describing the process of cutting of the wheat using scythes that cut away the base of the grain; “a pisatura,” which is the separation of the wheat grain from the husk. This process is done by horses that use their hooves to trample the stalks of wheat guided by the farmer. There is a tasting of the baked bread and thecuccia”; the “mascacia” which is the technique used to shoe horses, and “mapstata du pani” – bread making. The whole country is decorated with ears of corn that adorn palaces, churches, plazas and main streets. Folk music and dance groups will accompany the three days of celebration.

Visit the Museum of Grain which exhibits the ancient tools of the traditional crafts of Sicily. Don’t leave without taking a jute bag full of seeds of wheat and some ears of wheat. According to the Sicilian tradition wheat represents fertility and good luck! Allura: bona furtuna a tutti!


Directions to Raddusa: (75 Km, 44,73 mi. from Catania):
From Catania: take the A9 highway CT-PA, Palermo direction, exit at Raddusa/Assoro

Etna Trasporti, Interbus

from AmuniSicily.com #4 edited by Vanvakys
Related link: SicilyArt.com, Siciliana Cities and VillagesResources, Nature and Traditions

The Museum of the Landing in Sicily.

The Exhibition Centre – Le Ciminiere is located very close to Catania railway station and hosts “The Museum of the Landing in Sicily”, which shows a dramatic period in the history of Italy.
It was in 1943 that the Allied forces landed in Sicily, in the area between Gela and Licata (US Forces), Catania and Siracusa (British Army) , to liberate our country from German occupation. In the 3000 square meters dedicated to the museum, the highlights of the landing are traced through historical videos and displays of authentic pictures. Children may mistake the wax figures for real people!
Film lovers will be impressed by the special effects of sound and motion that simulate a bombing raid from within a bunker! The Museum, created by Catania’s Regional Province Institution, helps to keep alive our most recent history which saw our parents and grandparents, Italian / non Italian, fight a common enemy: Fascist and Nazis.

The Museum of the landing in Sicily
“Le Ciminiere” Catania- viale Africa Tel +39 095.4011929

Opening times: Tuesday/Sunday from 9 a.m. till 2 p.m. ( last admission 12.30 p.m.)
Tuesday and Thursday also from 3 p.m. till 6 p.m. ( last admission at 5 p.m.)
Closed on Mondays.

THE LEGEND OF DIONYSUS – The arrival of the vines in Sicily

As we well know, the ancient Greeks, and then the Romans, loved myths and legends – myths and legends that were recorded by the eminent poets and philosophers of their time, and who remain fundamental to western culture today, including Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, just to name a few.

Their narratives touched upon weakness and virtue, nobility and gods, and depicted women and men who confronted wars and adventures, whether for passion or simply in search of a better understanding of the mysteries of the world and this life.

According to some of these legends, it was jealousy that precipitated the arrival of grapevines in Sicily. Zeus, the father of the gods, and always on the lookout for new love interests, fell for Armonia, a beautiful young maiden. It was his wife Hera who, upon learning of this betrayal, went straight for the counterattack, transforming herself into the young maiden’s food, and convincing the young girl to ask Zeus to appear to her in all of his majestic splendor with which he ruled Olympus.

Armonia was already pregnant when, between claps of thunder, and flashes of lightning, Zeus appeared. The glorious sight was too much for her to bear, and the strength of her emotion caused her to give birth prematurely, shedding light on a most breathtakingly beautiful baby boy.

At that moment, Zeus recognized the foul play, and immediately sewed the infant to one of his legs, completing the gestation period much as an incubator would, and for this reason, the child was called “Dionysus,” that is, the son of Zeus, the god of fertility, joy, and well-being. Dionysus decided to leave the Ellade and escape to Sicily, bringing a grape vine with him. As he was undertaking a long sea voyage, and needed to protect the small plant from the elements, he first placed it inside the bone of a bird, and later inside that of a lion, and since it kept growing, he finally placed it in the bone of a donkey. Thus was born the first ancient rule of drinking, and which is still worth remembering today: “A good glass of wine makes you light as a bird, another drink and you are courageous as a lion, but when you exaggerate with wine, you end up an ass!.” Upon his arrival in Sicily, Dionysus planted the first vineyard at Naxos, just below Taormina, the first Greek colony.

 

Read More about the Arrival of Wines in Sicily