Sassari - August 14th, 2012 - The 2nd largest festival in Sardinia owes its name to the large ‘candlesticks’ which men parade though-out town for a six-hour parade of strength, endurance, song and dance.
I Candelieri was born around 1500 for a vow to the Virgin Mary; and to give thanks to the survival of three plagues during 1600′s, which killed many thousands of people on the island.
I Candelieri – The Descent of the Candle Bearers is a festival which embodies the spirit and traditions of Sassari. Its origins date back to the Middle Ages, when Sassari, under Pisan domination, adopted a modified version of the Pisan tradition of an offering, similar to a large wooden wax-covered altarpiece to the Madonna on the eve of the Assumption.
10 candlesticks with 8 men per candle parade throughout the town to the beat of drums, clapping and chanting in local dialect. The last stop, at midnight, is St. Rosario’s Church where every Candelieri receives a midnight blessing from the church.
Gremio dei Contadini – Guild of Peasants 1803
Many peasants during the Middle Ages worked a day for landowners in vineyards and gardens; their work was never regarded with esteem by the upper classes, who used to call them “li zappadori” with the intention of insulting them. The peasants grew weary of the name calling and decided to leave and build their own guild.
Gremio degli Ortolani – Guild of the Gardeners
During the parade the local gremi (farmers, carpenters, cobblers, blacksmiths’, wayfarers, stonemasons, tailors, farming masters, vegetable farmers, and masons) are dressed in the traditional costume of their guild.
The parade is a boisterous, loud affair which brings in over 100,000 people from all over Europe. It’s s spectacular, mind numbing and fabulous traditional festival for all ages.
Balloons, Palms, Candelieri
The Guild of the Locksmiths are an esteemed guild, dating back to 1521. All throughout Sassari you can find ancient locks adorning ancient doors.
Gremio dei Fabbri 1521 – Guild of the Locksmith 1521
The candlesticks are adorned with ribbons, flowers, grapes, flags of the patron saint and images of the guild. Each candlestick represents its guild in a colourful ancient story of life in the Middle Ages.
The pinnacle of I Candelieri is when two guilds come together in song and dance. It’s a sign of respect, good fortune and friendship.
Left – Gremio dei Falegnami 1921 – Guild of the Carpenters
Right – Gremio dei Contadini 1803 – Guild of the Peasants
And the moment 100,000 people have been waiting for …
The greatest folk celebration that gathers each year on August 14th is a spectacular event to witness. The people of Sassari have been passing this tradition on for 7 centuries; they are proud of its deep civil and regilous origins.
The town stays alive until late in the night with people singing, dancing, eating and praying.
Have you seen I Candelieri? What did you think? Tell me below.