Salento curiosities and traditions

St. Joseph's table in Salento

The country where she was born this tradition is Giurdignano. Game from here the tradition has been spreading in the neighboring countries of Uggiano La Chiesa, Casamassella, Cocumola, etc. The ceremonial custom, with its roots in the rich history of the Terra d'Otranto, evokes the great medieval religious celebrations, meeting of two great cultures and styles Byzantine and Baroque. On 18 and 19 March, in the main squares of these countries, it is a long table laden 40 meters. Around the table sit the Holy Family with Mary, Joseph and Jesus and, next, the ten saints: St. Anne, St. Elizabeth, St. Zaccaria, St. Joachim, St. Fhilip, St. John, St. Mary Cleofe, St. Agnes, St. Joseph of Arimathea. The long table must be composed of a minimum of three diners (The Holy Family, Our Lady has to be played by an unmarried girl) to a maximum of thirteen people, always in odd numbers. Saints do not wear colorful clothes, but those of everyday life. St. Joseph holding a stick and sits at the head. While taste, beats twice the stick pointing to other diners to finish and proceed to another extent. Everything happens reciting prayers. Every gesture is marked by faith and prayer: the Tables were a tribute to St. Joseph but also a concrete way to help those who do not always had a plate secured. It was the custom of the "lord" of the place (the so-called "Patruni") offer to eat once a year to all the poor. And in reference to this practice, some families were preparing large amounts of food to be distributed to less fortunate families.


Salento Focare

The focare usually take place March 19 in honor of St. Joseph. The term means a large bonfire in which is burned, according to tradition, all the firewood that was not used in winter. The symbolic value of focare is connected to the ancient propitiatory rites of purification made by fire, the ancient pagan ceremonies which the Church has used and endorsed by linking them to the cult of St. Joseph. According to tradition, the focare were lit by people to warm the poor saint devoid of anything to which you added food and drinks. The focare are also present in several popular festivals of various kinds. The most famous is that of Novoli which takes place on January 16 in honor of St. Anthony, the realization of which all citizens contribute thus allowing the performance of a great show that lasts all night which always attracts tourists and people from all over Salento. The tourist is fascinated by this combination of reality and the original myth of the always present rural world in Salento.


Pizzica, famous Salentine dance

The cult in honor of the god Dionysus was particularly felt during the greek and roman period, during the festivities the people let themselves go publicly to unbridled behavior, helped by the wine. Dionysus in Rome was precisely identified by the name of Bacchus.

The pinch seems to have these origins, a lively dance couple, spread to the last war which is cited, as a term, until the end of the eighteenth century. Oggi c'è una certa riscoperta di questo ballo nello spirito della tradizioni che non vanno perse o dimenticate.  Today there is a certain rediscovery of this dance in the spirit of traditions that go not lost or forgotten. The dance involves a variety of steps and movements of alternating phases of calm or waiting to more hectic phases characterized by strong beats of the feet on the ground. Typically movements are closely linked to the sense of circularity accented by the "ronda", that is the typical circle, composed of musicians, dancers or curious aspirants, which forms spontaneously giving birth at the time of the dance. That's why in the various events in the square, but also in those performed during private functions such as weddings and baptisms, the patrol is always present and contributes to the rediscovery of folklore and traditional culture of Salento.


Hypogean oil mills of Salento

Ancient structures are always used for the production of olive oil, one of the most famous and popular products of Salento. A real golden liquid made from the precious fruits that majestic and twisted old olive trees of Puglia, are still able to give. The tombs of Salento mills are still perfectly preserved within their caskets of stone. And 'in fact just in the basement of the oldest buildings of Salento that mills still found placement. These environments were originally created for the conservation of the grain, but after contact with the Byzantine culture, which occurred at about the ninth century, many decided to change and engage in more complex and profitable oil business which was mainly exported to the big cities and used as fuel to illuminate the streets, or as an ingredient to make the soap and only a small part of the oil product was used by farmers for food use. Local stone not only housed the mills and people who obviously were dedicated to the transformation of the olives, but also animals, placed in small rooms used as stables.