Journey from northern to southern Italy to discover the traditions associated with the day of the fateful ‘I do’
Marriage in Basilicata is historically associated with many rituals that put trees, symbols of strength and endurance, in the limelight. An example can be found in the three dance rounds of the betrothed around a tree; the custom of the couples of Tricarico of passing under a mulberry tree and, again, the gift of the log with which the future husband declared his fidelity to his beloved.
In the nearby Calabria there is the famous tradition of the trousseau: grandmothers and mothers buy and preserve linens for a lifetime so they can give them to their daughters on their wedding day. All the women of the house, moreover, were accustomed to prepare the bed for the first night of the wedding: the only one who was not allowed to attend the preparation was, of course, the bride.
In Puglia, in the province of Foggia, the tradition would have the figure of the “mezzana”, a woman who, in representation of the bridegroom, asked for the hand of the bride interfacing directly with her family. Apulian weddings are closely related to food: at the end of the reception the guests received a tray of almond cakes while those who could not participate but nonetheless sent a gift to the newlyweds, received sweets directly at home.
Food is also the leading player in the customs of Sicily: in the province of Modica it was customary to pour wine in front of the future house of the newlyweds while in Mazara del Vallo, instead of the throwing rice on the newlyweds, they threw wheat. The festivities in Sicily, until a few decades ago, began a few days before the date of the wedding: on an evening called ‘a sira re letta’ the bride and groom showed everyone the gifts they received, and revealed the names and surnames of the benefactors, while the bed and wedding rings were previewed inside the house.
In Sardinia weddings evoke ancient traditions. In Selergius, for example, the wedding is still celebrated with the ancient Sardinian costumes and the night before the wedding, the Palio of the Bride is held, consisting of the move of the bride’s furniture to her new home. Other Sardinian traditions are the blessing of the bride and groom by the parents of both, the chaining of the couple in church and the luck-bringing act of smashing a dish filled with rice, wheat, salt, coins and rose petals under the house of the bride.
In Campania romanticism is the master: on the evening before the wedding, in fact, the groom dedicates to his future wife a serenade, often accompanied by a band of local musicians. Not only music, but also a lot of noise: in many Campanian towns there is the custom of destroying dishes and glasses, still full of food and drinks, to celebrate the virginity of the bride and wish the couple health and prosperity.