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St Stephen's Day in Putignano

St Stephen's Day in Putignano
St Stephen's Day in Putignano

Right after Christmas, on December 26, 2010 in Italy will begin the oldest and longest carnival of the country. On December 26 Catholic Church celebrates the Santo Stefano Day. He was the first martyr for Christ, one of the Seven Apostles, chosen by the Apostle Peter to collect donations to help the poor. So this day is often called "Boxing Day", on this day children are given gifts and people leave donations in the churches and hospitals. The traditions of celebrating the Day of St. Stephen vary depending on country. Very interesting shape this holiday got in the Italian town of Putignano in the region of Apulia. Here celebrating of the holiday turn into a big event - the Carnival, which, incidentally, is the oldest in the world and has been held for 616 years. This carnival was so popular that residents of Putignano decided to hold it also in summer.

In December 1394 the relics of St. Stephen's were moved from nearby Monopoli, where it was kept in the church of St. Maria of the Greca, in Putignano. According to the legend, peasants and poor people gathered around a procession of priests and accompanied them to the very Putignano, where were held popular festivals and celebrations.

This ceremony of transferring of the relics is called St. Propaggine (passing). Since then, there was a tradition to organize a symbolic Propaggine each year on St. Stephen's Day. However, over time, this ecclesiastical tradition has turned into a secular holiday of Carnival (Carnevale di Putignano), in which, instead of priests are involved Corsi mascherati - big moving platforms. Unlike other similar marches Corsi mascherati are decorated with posters of social or political messages and requirements. Often there are placed large dolls made of papier-mache, depicting famous politicians. By the way, there is one feature that makes the Carnevale di Putignano special - this is the longest carnival in the world, because it begins almost two months ahead of similar events, but ends up with the beginning of the Lent.

Date: 21/12/2010

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