In lieu of it just turning February I thought I would share some info on festivals. As a traveller, one of the coolest experiences, in my opinion, would be to get to experience some of the world’s most amazing and shocking (Thailand Vegetarian Festival pictured above) festivals! After having a quick peruse through a Lonely Planet Guide I found a pretty cool Italian festival that seemed like its particular rituals would be fun to share.
Ivrea Carnevale. An Italian festival held in a small city outside Turin in Northern Italy is best described as the biggest food fight in the world. Not only does it display epic war recreations, but oranges are actually being thrown by strangers AT strangers. And YES you may go blind or get hurt or injured, but it’s all a part of the fun.
The tradition supposedly originated from an actual overthrow of a political figure within the small city. In 1194, Emperor Frederick of Swabia apparently tried to get it on with the miller’s daughter, often quoted as being called Violetta la Mugnaia, causing her to decapitate him in defence (mixed accounts of the story have been shared). A mob then stormed his castle and successfully overthrew the tyrant’s officials!
So Why Oranges?
Well the origin of the oranges apparently vary:
- Some suggest the oranges symbolize the testicles of the overthrown tyrant
- Some suggest the oranges represent the stones actually thrown
Whatever the actual cause, oranges by the crate load are chucked at the crowd surrounding the carts of “Royalty” while the mob pushes back with their own [buckets] of oranges!
The festival doesn’t only promote the throwing of oranges, but also a dress code. Long red hats are worn by participants who wish to remain safe from the orange throwing. These hats are believed to be worn after the “worshippers of the sun”, symbolizing the notion of freedom, and thus neutrality. Now of course the hats have become more of a fashion statement!
Despite it appearing to be a crazy food fight to us outsiders, it seems like everyone is having fun getting dressed up in checkered gear and helmets, and apparently stepping on the layers of squashed oranges and peels underneath all the festival goers is a real treat. I can’t say I’d be daring enough to want to get hit by oranges, I mean the thought of giant orange shaped bruises is enough to keep me away, but seeing such a cool thing where tons of people come together for a fun (historical) event would be quite entertaining… and perhaps I could sneak in a little chuckle at people ducking and dodging to avoid being hit!
If you could go to any festival in the world, what would it be?
Note: Information courtesy of Wikipedia.com, About.com, Goitaly.about.com, and fest300.com