Here we go bablarians! It’s the 6th of February, one exact month after Epiphany and just a week away from Valentine’s Day and we Italians – since we really cannot concentrate on one party at a time – are already decorating shops with Carnival costumes, sparklers and masks to get prepared for the celebrations that are going to take place from the second week of February until the first week of March through the country.
Tradition that dates back to the ages of the Roman Empire, Carnival is one of the most heart-felt feasts in Italy, and as such we make sure that every year it is celebrated in the most spectacular way possible. Around the world , I am sure a lot of different ways to celebrate Carnival – some more extravagant than others – exist, but I guess Italy can be proud of saying that she has outdone them all thanks to one of the oldest and most well-known event in Piedmont: Ivrea’s Carnival.
In Ivrea, renowned piemontese city, every year starting from 1808, a sumptuous carnival event takes place, inspired by the historical wards’ feasts organized in the city back in the days. Since this event has a clear connection to the manifestations against Napoleon’s army and to the popular insurrections that took place during the medieval times in that area, it was given the official name of “Historical Carnival of Ivrea”.
The celebration involves the entire city, but also others, and different Italian regions and European countries, whose musical bands are invited to play every year at all the feasts and parades around town. So we can say that, even if historical, this special carnival does not lack some innovation, but its traditions remain strongly anchored to two main elements: the historical cortège parade and the battle of oranges.
According to the legend, on her wedding day, Violetta, daughter of a miller leaving in Ivrea, was dragged against her will to the cruel tyrant at the “Castellazzo” (palace). The tradition stated that every serf had to let his daughter spend the first night of her marriage with his feudal lord. But Violetta very bravely succeeded in getting him drunk and beheading him in his sleep, leading to a proper popular riot and to the destruction of the tyrant’s palace.
The singularity of the parade, during which very important historical characters of the city (led by Violetta, their heroine) march on decorated carts or on the back of their horses, it’s the participation of the very young Abbàs, carrying sabers on top of which there are oranges, symbolizing the tyrant’s impaled head.
But the most controversial yet most famous tradition of this carnival is – for sure – the battle of oranges, which started during the 20th century when the first teams of aranceri (orange throwers) and the first carri di getto (throwing carts) were established. The battle generally symbolizes low class people strive against aristocracy: the carts stand for the tyrant’s guards battery and the standing teams are the group of insurrecting plebeians. The battle takes place in a big square where the teams fight by throwing as many oranges as they can, trying to gain the jury’s approval and win the battle.
Despite it being at the center of many polemics, not only for the big amount of wasted oranges but also for the huge amount of people getting hurt every year, the battle of oranges is on the most international events in Italy as it is attended by loads of foreign people.
Are you curious to know more about it? Visit this website: http://www.storicocarnevaleivrea.it/English/