Happy Easter 2020!


Samantha Maggi

Photo by Sven Brandsma on Unsplash

Easter rites in Alto Oltrepò, between sacred and profane.

Unfortunately this year, due to the restrictions related to Covid-19, I will miss one of the most suggestive and unchanged Easter traditions of the whole Province of Pavia, the one of the Romagnese area, a mixture of sacred and profane that has enchanted me since when I was small and in which I have always participated also because those are the places of my childhood, the lands of my grandparents, that splendid area of ​​the Apennines crossroads of four provinces, between Lombardy, Piedmont, Liguria and Emilia Regions.

It begins on Holy Thursday with a purely religious ritual, a procession that starts from the beautiful seventeenth-century church of Romagnese, a suggestive medieval village, still dominated by the fourteenth-century Dal Verme castle, now the seat of the Municipality. The religious procession starts from the church of San Lorenzo followed by an anonymous hooded penitent who wears a red tunic and carries a large wooden cross on his shoulders to reach the church of a nearby hamlet, Casa Picchi

Of course, the procession is the symbol of Jesus' ascent to Calvary and I remember that I only took part in it once since, not understanding the role of the hooded man, I was a little impressed and I didn't want to participate anymore! For us children it was certainly more exciting what, instead, took place and still takes place on Good Friday, a ritual that even my daughters today don't want to miss ... the big bonfire.

Each village in the valley, in the days preceding Good Friday, accumulates, in a very specific place outiside the village, wood, bundles, paper, dry grass creating a very high pile. Our village is Casa Rocchi, at almost a thousand meters above sea level, surrounded by woods with beautiful views over the entire valley and there, during Easter, we meet up punctually with the families of our friends on Friday night, in the campfire field and it is generally the first time we see each other together after the winter.

We chat and drink, the children play and joke and await in the cold night the lighting of the large bonfire that must take place in sequence with those of all the other hamlets of the valley and so, soon, the dark slopes of the mountains are illuminated by many orange lights, many imaginary torches that follow from afar, the procession of the statue of the dead Christ down in the main village, Romagnese, while we finally warm up admiring, enchanted, the huge fire that burns and illuminates the whole field.

Here we are on Holy Saturday with a tradition that has regained strength in recent years attracting many "furests" (non-locals, in local dialect). La Galina Grisa (The gray hen) takes its curious name from the opening verse of the ritual song of which you can find the text and a video below, obviously in local dialect. Different groups of singers and musicians, including accordionists and pipers, move, from village to village, on different paths, singing typical songs of the popular local tradition and above all, precisely, the song La Galina Grisa.

In the threshing floors and courtyards, people once offered mainly eggs (probably a symbol of rebirth as well as a product always available even in the poorest houses) and money for the church. In fact, I remember very well when, as a child, I waited for the singers on the terrace of the grandparents and, after listening to the powerful voices of the singers intone La Galina Grisa, my grandmother came down to put some eggs and a few pennies in their "cavagna" (basket). The "pagan procession" then ended in Romagnese with a large collective omelette and good red wine.

The tradition today remains substantially the same only with richer "banquets": when the singers arrive at Casa Rocchi (but also in the other hamlets) some families offer them, and to all those who follow them, salami, focaccia, cheese , savory pies and always a lot of wine and then the group continue towards Romagnese where the "gran final" of the party takes place remains but ... only for the most stoic ones, just because after so much singing, eating walking and, above all, so much wine... not everyone reaches the Romagnese!

It is with this experienxe, this year forcefully virtual , with songs, laughters, beautiful landscapes, dances, good food and good wine that I wish a happy Easter to all!

La galina grisa

«Süza süza, gh'è chì 'l galante
de la vostra galina griza.
E la negra, e la bianca
püra che la canta (bis).

E gh'è chì la Santa Pasqua
con l'erba e coi bei fiori (bis),
e con l'erba e coi bei fiori
e la fresca rugiada (bis).

È venuta d'una brinata
e l'erba la si n'è 'ndata (bis).
Ed è venuta d'una rugiada
e l'erba l'è ritornata (bis).

In co de l'orto gh'è fiorì la fava,
dentro dentro in questa casa c'è la gente brava (bis).
E se lei la sarà brava
la mi darà le uova (bis).

E dami delle uova
della vostra gallina (bis).
In co de l'orto gh'è fiorì la rosa,
dentro dentro questa casa c'è la mia morosa (bis).

In co de l'orto gh'è fiorì la vessa,
dentro dentro questa casa c'è la mia belessa (bis).
Met la scala al casinôt,
öv dêi zü a vôt a vôt (bis),
meta la scala a la cascina,
öv dêi zü a la ventina (bis),

La luna, la luna cavalca i monti
questa l'è l'ora di fare i conti…
e una micca e una rubiöla
la farìzam föra (bis)!

E ch'la ma scüza sciura padrona
sa l'um cantà da spresia (bis),
la cantrum mei da vegn indré
suta la sua finestra (bis).»

Video canzone "La galina grisa 2019"

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Samantha Maggi

Da appassionata di storia e arte mi sono laureata nel 1999 in Scienze dei Beni Culturali all’ Università di Pavia per poi superare gli esami per diventare Guida Turistica Abilitata di queste splendide e così diverse città lombarde: Pavia, Milano, Como.
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8 comments for “Buona Pasqua 2020!”

  1. Bellissimo articolo, mplto dettagliato, che mi ha fatto vivere dentro alla tradizione di questa terra come se fossi dul posto. Grazie

  2. Grazie mille! Articolo e video interessante con informazioni che non conoscevo! Grazie

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