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Feast of li Schietti



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Technical sheet prepared by: Region of Sicily - Department of cultural heritage and Sicilian identity - CRicd: Regional center for inventory, cataloging and documentation and Sicilian regional film library

N. Prog.
Feast of li Schietti
REI - Book of celebrations
Approval date
Party / Ceremony
Local denomination
Feast of them schetti
Chronological News
The origin of the ritual dates back, in all likelihood, to the end of the eighteenth century, and would seem contemporary with the birth of the community of Terrasini, initially with an agricultural vocation due to a nucleus of peasants who from the inside of Partinico, Zucco and Montelepre they settled permanently in today's locality.
Easter Sunday
Resurrection of Christ the Savior
Devotional / Regenerative
Originally only the bachelors of the country, close to marriage.
Today the challenge is contested between bachelors, married couples and children.
Devotees, local community, tourists
The Feast of li frank, takes place on Easter Sunday, and consists of the raising in the palm of one hand, of a melangolo, aranciu airu (bitter orange), a tree chosen both for its resistance and for its thaumaturgical and medical properties, weighing about 50 kilos, as proof of the physical prowess of its bearers. The winner will be the one who has held the keg up for the longest time possible. Participants wear the typical Sicilian costume consisting of black velvet trousers and vest, white shirt, red scarf, red pompoms that act as a tie and a red cap.
In the days preceding the party, the outspoken young people, who are part of the Dubbitation committee, organizer of the event, reach the citrus groves surrounding the town to choose the tree to be sacrificed for the occasion, which must be leafy and balanced with a straight trunk. . The actual ritual begins at dawn on Holy Saturday with a complex ritual that envisages the sacrifice of the lamb in the wood as the first phase; the frank, go to one werewolf, in the Zucco district, where they brutally kill the animal: the sheep is slaughtered and instantly dies of bleeding, skinned and hung like a trophy. The execution is consumed in short moments with concise and solemn gestures that still reveal, in its creators, the ritual character of a test of virility. The cooking of the meat on the grill and the resulting food orgy are decisive actions for the success of the ritual. Then we proceed with the cutting of the chosen tree, the operation is carried out with special tools by the local artisans who actually kill the tree and then resuscitate it with the lift. After the cut begins the ritual of handful, the collective meal, accompanied by large drinks of wine and consumption of typical products including grilled sardines, a symbol together with the meat and wine of the two cultures of Terrasini, the peasant and the marinara, which reveals the connection of the festival with the ancient pagan agrarian rites propitiatory of a year of abundance and happiness.
At the end of this phase, the cut tree is transported to the village on a Sicilian cart, 'u carrettu ra party, by the shipwright, the carpenter, and kept in a warehouse where it will be transformed into a ceremonial artifact. The most demanding phase is that of the preparation of the base, which once pruned and thinned, is wedged in a sort of oar to make the effort of lifting and maintaining balance easier for the bearers. The whole trunk, deprived of the outer bark, is covered with colored fabrics and the foliage enriched with other leaves and surrounded by tricolor ribbons, red handkerchiefs, bows and small giummi of woven wool threads, ciancianeddi (horse rattles) e aineddi (zoomorphic forms of cheese paste) or simple caciotte.
Once the members of the Dubbitazione slept in the warehouse to protect the tree from any vandalism. At dawn on Easter Sunday, the firing of firecrackers awakens the town reminding us that it is the big day. The feast opens with the blessing of the tree performed by the priest of the Cathedral after the celebration of the first Mass in the public square. Thus begins the procession through the streets of the town, accompanied by the musical band, from time to time the outspoken stop in front of the houses, proving their skills. The most important rise is the one that takes place under the balcony of the zita, the betrothed or the unofficial fiancée, in such a way as to declare their love in front of the family and the entire community, if zita agrees he takes off a twig from the tree and so the promise of marriage is signed. Many marriages, it is said among the elderly of the town, did not take place due to the inability of the frank to raise the tree. The lifting gesture requires techniques and skills handed down orally for generations of arbulara. The tree must be held from below with the help of a helper who places the trunk in the center of the palm of the hand. Then with a slight jerk forward, the candidate pushes himself to his feet by extending the pole upwards, parallel to the head facing upwards towards the hair, to maintain the balance as much as possible. Over the years, innovations have been introduced such as the chronometric race to raise the tree, in which the married (married) and children competing separately with a small tree proportionate to their strength, without however affecting the traditional aspects of the rite. This competition takes place on Sunday afternoon in front of the Matrice church in the presence of a jury. At the end there will be the award ceremony accompanied by the music of the band.
Buttitta, Antonino and Melo Minnella. 1978. Easter in Sicily. Palermo: Grafindustria editions.
Buttitta, Ignazio Emanuele. Laurel feasts in Sicily. Archive of Sicilian folk traditions, 29-30, Palermo: Folkstudio, 1993.
Cardella, Antonio. 2002. Holy rites and legends of the Sicilian people. Palermo: Sigma Editions.
Croce, Marcella. 2004. The seasons of the sacred: almanac of Sicilian folk festivals. Palermo: Flaccovio Editore.
D'Agostino, Gabriella. 2000. Eros and party, in The power of symbols. Studies on popular religiosity. Buttitta, Ignazio Emanuele and Rosario Perricone, edited by. Palermo: Folkstudio.
Arise, Orietta. 2014. The tree of Life. Eros and initiation into the Terrasini frank party. Mediterranean Dialogues, bimonthly periodical of the Arab Euro Institute in Mazzara del Vallo.
Arise, Orietta, edited by. The tree of Life. Eros and initiation into the Terrasini frank party. Directed by Salvo Cuccia. Palermo: CRICD, 2013. DVD, 27 min.
Since 1977, the only authorized exception, the Festa di li frank has been revived at the same time also in Detroit (USA), by the community of emigrants from Terrasino; on this occasion an orange specially sent by California is used. The raising of the tree takes place with the scenario constituted by the blow-up of the Mother Church of Terrasini and serves to ideally reconnect the group of emigrants with the memory of a collective rite, which has totally lost the meaning of an agrarian celebration, but which expresses a strong nostalgic tension towards a now distant island.
Author Card
Maria Rosaria Paterno '
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