This festival is profoundly sensed in the village of Mamoiada being full of mythical and ritual aspects and it is a time for reviving communal belongings and identity.
St. Anthony’s Bonfires Day coincide with the first annual appearance/outing “sa prima essia” of the iconic figure of the Mamuthones with their blackened shepherd’s outfit, a silent reminder of an idealised pastoral past, carefully directed by their eternal rivals , the Issohadores.
A unique experience for the tourists a chance to know the best kept secret the real Sardinian life with at the centre its special people.
A perfect mixture of the sacred and the profane, the flame of these great fire starts the night between 16 and 17 January, revive the ancient traditional ritual dedicated to Sant’Antoni de su Fogu, -Saint Anthony -saint protector of the shepherds and farmers, who died at more than one hundred years of age on this very day 17 January.
According to myth, Sant’Antonio stole a burning spark of fire from hell hiding it in his hollow stick to give as a gift to the icy earth and the men who lived there, as yet unaware of its useful functions .
Great amount of woods including lentisks, strawberry tree, laurel and rosemary are put together to forms a huge pyramid. (known by different names in Sardinian language – Su Fogarone o sas Tuvas). So to create a mystical atmosphere of seducing Mediterranean aromatic scents all through the town small alleys.
People , in a ritual which is a blend of sacred and profane, walk round the fire three times clockwise and in an anti-clockwise direction, articulating prayers around the believed purifying fire previously blessed by the town priest.
So at the same time begins the old pagan rite ,probably of Greek origin , in honour of fire, a untouchable and invulnerable element of the universe, that recalls the colour of blood and the heat of the body, in a word the life.
The festival go on for couple of days, with Sardinian songs and dances, all shouting loud the “Balla chi commo benit carrasecare” – “dance, because Carnival is coming”, wonderful wine and the culinary excellence of the typical sweets known as “orulettas” delicious sugar-coated fritters.
What a better opening ceremony for the Carnival season that traditionally start these days.
A Special Thanks to Gesuino G. and the Gruppo Issohadores e Mamuthones Pro loco Mamoiada that made all this and more possible with their typical and warm hospitality.
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