In Italy and Spain the celebration of Saint Anthony's Day features the traditions given in the previous page, as the blessing of the animals and the great bonfires on the eve of the feast.
In Spain the huge bonfires are called hogueras and are built in the main squares of the villages and towns, especially in Andalucia and Castilla. The citizens gather around the bonfires to celebrate, eat, dance and drink.
Image: Las Luminaria at San Bartolomé de Pinares, Spain
Copyright and source: © AP Photo/Arturo Rodriguez - http://www.sanbartolomedpinares.com
Bonfires and pork mark the celebrations in some villages of the Alpujarras, where "the chiscos" are lit, which are great bonfires attracting people from all the neighbouring villages. At Vega de Granada, near the city of Granada, the “Olla de San Anton” is prepared, a stew made primarily with dried beans, potatoes and all parts of pork (head with ears, legs, belly, spine, ribs, tail etc.)
In Catalunya and on the Balearic Islands mounted processions in the streets are very common. Sabadell, a town located at about 20 km from Barcelona, is one of the few cities in Spain that celebrates the festival of Saint Anthony on January 17th, regardless of whether it's a working day or a holiday. The celebrations include the traditional blessing of the animals and the “Mounted Procession of Sant Antoni Abat”: an impressive parade with horse drawn carriages and mounted horses.
On the eve of the feast the “foguerons” (bonfires) are lit also in many parts of Mallorca, accompanied by masked parades of demons and other characters. In Mahon, on Minorca island, the feast is particularly important, as this day coincides with the Day of the People of Menorca (Diada del Poble de Menorca), commemorating the thanksgiving date, when King Alfonso III regained control of Menorca in 1287 after 400 years Arab domination. This episode is re-enacted by a procession, led by three horsemen carrying the town flag and three torches called “Els Tres Tombs” that represent the three torches given by King Alfonso to the city after liberating it from the Muslims.
Another tradition is the “Pi de Sant Antoni”, a greased pole with a cock placed at the top, over which the youths of Pollença (on Mallorca island) challenge each other.
Horse riding has a central role in Spanish celebrations, strongly connected to the bonfires, as at Villanueva de Alcolea and Lucena del Cid, in the province of Castellón, where riders on saddled horses jump over bonfires.
At Navalvillar de Pela (Badajoz) the spectacular Encamisada, also called Carrera de San Antón, is held in the night before, involving a great number of riders on horses completely adorned. Riders move along the street of the town for more than two hours and praise St. Anthony and Jesus.
Image: La Encamisada
Source: © http://www.laencamisa.com
In Jaen on the same night the International Urban Night Race of San Anton takes place, during which people run through the steep streets lighted by the torches, for almost 10 km.
One of the most important festivals is that in San Bartolomé de Pinares, where St. Anthony is celebrated with a great procession on horseback along the steep cobbled streets of the city, called Las Luminarias. The fires are lit in the streets of the town, causing much smoke, and the horsemen have to go through the fire by the rhythm of flutes and drums. This ritual is supposed to purify men and animals, as it is said to be a Holy Smoke. In the morning of the January 17, the villagers come to kiss the saint's image and give a donation to cover the cost of the festival. Thereafter a mass is celebrated and the procession starts, in which the faithful kiss the "Vara de San Anton", the rod of St. Anthony.
Procession and food are key elements of the Mas de las Matas (Teruel), with the donation of blessed loaves and a masquerade. In Trigueros (Huelva) after the blessing of animals, the Procesión de Tercias starts, a solemn procession along streets to the church. During this long procession, lasting almost the whole day, the famous “Tradicional Tiradas” take place, when every kind of food, mainly ham, bread and sweets, are thrown from the windows or balconies of the houses to the procession participants in the streets. Also the great processions in Malaga are to be mentioned, with lot of fireworks and popular games.
At La Alberca (Salamanca area) people celebrate the “rifa del marrano de San Antón”, or the Pig Raffle of St. Anthony, where a pig, who could move free through the streets of the town in the previous months, is slaughtered and raffled off for charity.
An example of popular drama is to be experienced at Arquillos (Jaén). On the eve of Saint Anthony’s feast the temptation of Anthony by the devil is staged, while the bonfires are lit all around the village.
During the Las Vueltas de San Antón in Madrid, the blessing of small animals and pets is held at the Parish Church of San Anton, and nearby it is customary to serve the Panecillos de San Antón, sweet loaves with an impressed cross or Tau. Similar cakes are used in Murcia, where these panecillos, or muffins, no bigger than a coin, must be carried in the wallet as they bring good fortune.
Image: Panecillos de San Antón
Source: by La Marquesita - Wikimedia Commons
In Italy the feast day is celebrated with processions, music and bonfires, spread especially in southern and central Italy.
A famous festival of St. Anthony is the Focara at Novoli (Lecce, Puglia), where, on the night before January 17th, the celebration is held around a bonfire 25 meters high and 20 in diameter, one of the largest in Europe.
The word "Focara" is a dialect word indicating originally a pile of firewood and later the whole traditional rite of creating piles of firewood at the crossroads of the village. The festival includes other traditions associated with the saint, such as the blessing of the animals and the distribution of the “St. Anthony’s loaves”, once given in the church to farmers and liverymen to feed the sick animals, so that they could recover.
After the blessing of the animals, the procession moves through the streets of the village with the statue of the saint, carried on the shoulders by devotees.
Image: the lighting of the Fòcara
Copyright and source: Antonio Zaccaria - http://www.fondazionefocara.com
In Sardinia the bonfires on the eve of the festival are of great importance. They attract a lot of people gathering to celebrate throughout all the night. The fires are made of different wood, depending on the village, e.g. firewood made of large hollow tree trunks are called "sas tuvas", while “sas frascas” are made of several Mediterranean brushwood and bushes, and “su romasinu” of rosemary. The collecting of the firewood is a ritual itself and begins several days before the celebration.
In Naples and its surroundings, the celebration for “Antuono” (the name of the saint in the southern regions) involves the building of bonfires, called cippi, a word referring to the pyramid-like shape of the mound of wood, as a symbol of purification.
Also in Campania, at Macerata Campania, a village in the province of Caserta, the parade of "Battuglie of Pastellessa” takes place. The Pastellessa is the typical music created by sounds of agricultural tools such as barrels, vats and scythes. The players, called Bottari, are crammed on the “carri di Sant'Antuono", also known as the "battuglie". These are chariots 16 meters long and 3.50 m wide, which can host up to fifty Bottari.
Another highlight of the celebrations is the lighting of the "Cippo di Sant'Antuono", a large bonfire lit in the evening, so that it can burn all night until the following morning. The bonfire is lit traditionally after the Holy Mass and the blessing of the animals. The festival ends with the “Riffa”, i.e. the auction of all the offerings collected during the procession, in order to use them for charity. Also st. Anthony's pig is distributed to the citizens, by lots.
At Collelongo in Abruzzo the festival begins on January 16 with the lighting of the two great "torchioni", torches towering over 5 meters, which burn all night.
In some houses in the countryside, easily recognizable by the images of the saint, people put on the fire the "cottora", a huge pot or rather a cauldron, containing up to six cups of corn (66 Kg), to be cooked with water and salt. This dish, once cooked, takes the name of "cicerocchi", because it resembles to the chickpeas.
In the early morning the local girls bring the corn in "rescagnate" pot, copper containers or bowls, once used to draw water from the source, decorated with lights and small statues, ribbons and sometimes with paintings of the Saint, candles and colourful festoons. After the Mass the corn is distributed to the poor as charity and a little part of it is reserved for the pets, as healing and protective remedy.
In Basilicata at San Mauro Forte there is the local “Sagra del Campanaccio”, a bells festival held during the St. Anthony’s celebration. The night is marked by the loud and strong sounds of the bells. People of all ages gather in the night until the dawn of January 17, having any kind of rattle, bells or the typical "cupa cupa", a kind of drum made of a pot of earth closed with goat skin, which is linked to a cannula, so that, when moved, produces low and trembling sounds with the purpose to keep off the evil.
Image: Celebrations at San Mauro Forte
Source: © http://www.comune.sanmauroforte.mt.it
The most popular instrument is however the big bell or herd-bell, held between the legs and skilfully played. Even this sound is actually considered means of the effective protection against bad weather, disease, devils and wizards.
In Lazio, at Soriano nel Cimino, a big parade of thousands of animals is held (including sheep, chickens, dogs, rabbits, cats and birds). More than a hundred horses are involved in the procession, ending with the blessing of the animals. Local peculiarity is the “Biscotto di Sant'Antonio”, a cookie, which is considered bringing good health to the animals.
In Germany the worship of the Four Holy Marshals (Vier Marschälle Gottes) is recorded, which are four saints venerated in the Rhineland, especially at Cologne, Aachen and also in Liege, Belgium.
The four holy marshals were invoked against diseases and epidemics during the Middle Ages: they are Anthony the Great, Saint-Hubert of Liege, Pope Cornelius and Quirinus of Neuss. They were worshipped up to the Enlightenment Era in the Rhineland, especially in the area of the four pilgrimage sites: Anthony in Cologne, Hubert in the Ardennes, Cornelius in Aachen and Qurinius in Neuss.