Candle Race (Corsa dei Ceri) in Italy

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An Italian festival where poeople hold a candle to Gubbio’s centuries-old Corsa dei Ceri, held on 15th May to commemorate the city’s patron saint, St Ubaldo. Contested since the 12th century, it’s a strongman contest of unusual proportions. Also known as Saint Ubaldo Day. It is infact the day of the “Festa dei Ceri”, one of the most exciting event of Umbria and probably of Italy.

Interesting Features of Corsa dei Ceri

  • All the city of Gubbio will participate to this feast, young and old will be gathered in the main square, and they will dress the colours of their “ceraioli”: yellow for the Saint Ubaldo’s candle, blue for Saint Giorgio’s candle and black for Saint Antonio’s candle. The streets of the city will be also full of flags and banners with the symbols of the saints.
  • Saint Ubaldo Day begins early in the morning with roving musicians from Valley View High School about town and an intimate ceremony at Saint John’s Catholic Italian cemetery. Members of all three families, Sant’ Ubaldo, San Giorgio, and Sant’ Antonio, then gather together for a frittata breakfast. Participants then process to Saint Mary’s Assumption Church for a special Mass followed by “L’Alzata”.
  • During the Alzata, three “stanga” (the H-shaped platforms to be placed upon teams’ shoulders) are stood vertically as the large “ceri” (the pedestals) are fastened into them perpendicularly with wooden pegs. This hardware weighs approximately 400-450 pounds (900 in Gubbio) each and is reminiscent of the bier that carried Saint Ubaldo himself through Gubbio in proclamation of his heroism.
  • The afternoon is spent socializing among neighbors. Many households assemble in their yards and on their sidewalks to offer homemade food and wine to passersby. During these hours, the saints are carried leisurely throughout Jessup on display and for practice.
  • The procession is the main event and is termed a “race” more for its quick pace and level of excitement than for any competitive aspect. It begins in the uptown section of Jessup and winds its way through residential blocks before reaching the Church Street business district. This downhill stretch ends at Station Park in the opposite end of town. The course is reversed and climbs Church Street again before turning toward the Jessup Veterans’ Memorial Stadium. Teams circle the fields three times in a spectacle called “I tre giri”. Saint Ubaldo always “wins”, though George and Anthony can gain favor by having their ceri removed more swiftly as teams lay the stanga at rest and hammer the wooden pegs out.

If you are planning a Travel to Italy in the month of May, then this festival will worth to join on 15th of May.

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