Viva San Giorgio!!

1919496_1229967562339_3965433_n I am sure most of the people that visit my blog are familiar with the Festival of San Giorgio that is held on the second weekend of August each year. It is a fantastic, wonderful, and joyous occasion. I have been fortunate to celebrate this event four times in my life. I wanted to pass along some information about the history of this celebration. It is said that a very difficult event occurred in Martone in 1860 when it risked being destroyed by order of General La Marmora. Apparently some boys from Gioiosa were in Martone to kidnap some girls. The Martonesi decided to defend themselves with arms because the Gioiosani committed many acts of violence. The head of the Gioiosani, originally from Sicily, joined the army of General La Marmora and managed to convince him to bomb the country. This order was dated August 29 and it seemed that there was no more hope for Martone. Then the Martonesi witnessed an extraordinary event: the order was withdrawn. It was on August 30, 1860. The people of Martone thought this was a miracle from San Giorgio and have celebrated every August.
One of the main events of this celebration is a unique tradition has been repeated for centuries in Martone. According to the custom called “l’arzata da ‘ntinna”, a beech tree of about 25-30 meters is hung with typical Calabrian products. The tree is selected and cut in the mountains and then it is driven by two pairs of oxen to the main square of the Martone. Here it is grafted with the top of a smaller tree. Then it is decorated with lights and some of the typical food products of Martone, like traditional sguite and tasty local cheeses. When it is all set, ‘ntinna is hoisted with thick ropes from the roofs of the Church and surrounding building using only human power. The excitement begins once the tree is raised and secured. Then people from all over Italy compete in climbing the tree. It is a tradition that attracts many people, in conjunction with the celebrations dedicated to San Giorgio.

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