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"Rosa fresca aulentissima, ch'appari been reversed,
women will disirano, pulzell'e married!
Traimi de 'ste focora, if t'este to bolontate,
why not tutor abento night and give
penzanno while you, My madonna ".
This second verse of the same Contrast which contains the word focora, is cited by Dante Alighieri in In Vulgari Eloquentia(I, XII) (reported in the form "Tragemi d'focora this is the t'este boluntate») as an example of bad judgment that he had spoken of Sicily at the slow pace of.
But back to the Focara. This is a big bonfire that lights up the night of Christmas Eve and then is kept alive and revitalized New Year's Eve and Epiphany. A large open fire, then, as is found in the folk traditions of many European countries at the shortest day of the year but also at other times.
The pagan origin of the tradition is certainly, like many other traditions and rituals that religions have absorbed and reworked, but here what is most interesting is the anthropological aspect of the Focara, that is, as has been reworked and lived in the Calabrian community in general and particularly in Decollatura.
The raw material consisted mainly of strains of chestnut, almost always the part that remained in the soil after cutting a tree. It is a tangle of roots which is a lot of land and the collar of the trunk just mentioned. You can not talk of waste since, in ancient times, also the roots of the trees was used as firewood, after digging the ground all around the cutoff point, almost touching the ground, and, sometimes, even below. No one could afford to let them rot in the ground a few hundred pounds of wood at a time when the only source of fuel was the dry wood that fell from the trees after a storm, right granted to the inhabitants of mountain villages in the land of the feudal lords as dead wood to, ie the right to collect dead wood naturally fallen from the trees. There was little else to burn: the branches (bundles of twigs), the few available, were used to burn the oven; the stubble of lupines annual repairs needed for the shed; the trunks of trees, it's not even talk about the case: who would never cut a tree, depriving themselves of a source of food? Above – and that seems unlikely – the landscape of the past was much more barren than today! Farmlands were not tolerated in the trees, by shadow, would reduce the production of the field and so it is not planted, or better, there were few, high, huge trees pirajina or apple, so high that their shadow is distributed over a large area and thus gave little disturbance to the crop. There were places where they could be found uncultivated shrubs or other plant material. The trees, the few tolerated on the banks of rivers or in the woods, were pruned to a height unlikely during the summer to feed the goats. That left the roots of the trees felled by bad weather, those transported by the flow of rivers, those whose owners had not watched enough…
Strains, called Zucchi in dialect decollaturese, So far they had to be collected, in the woods or near rivers, and carried on a makeshift car to the square of the fraction of belonging volunteers. The work necessary to remove the stump of the roots from the earth and bring it to the destination would discourage anyone. And it is precisely this aspect that, attempting an anthropological analysis of Focara, you can find items to give a plausible interpretation of its origin and meaning. The starting point is that the roots and the trunk remained underground working and prevent the sowing of the soil and also, particularly in the case of the chestnut, do not rot after many years. The cooperation of many people in the unlikely job of extracting and removing stumps of chestnut is considered as a positive work once a year in the woods, however, the land and generally, were cleaned by these bulky and annoying presence. If we want to go even further back in time, until the Middle Ages and even before then, we have to remember one of the primitive techniques of cultivation: the so-called cesinas.
Only traces remain of this word in the expression has invoiced 'na Cesina, commonly used today, in the sense of make a killing, make extensive and excessive use of something (consuming and destroying) without knowing that the cesinas was an agricultural technology that was to cut all the trees of the forest while leaving a portion of the trunk (generally at breast height) and then setting fire to the whole. The undergrowth and provided part of the trunk remained ash fertilized and made ready for planting new farmland. Needless to add here the negative opinion for this primitive practice that provided only a fleeting and temporary relief to the food problems of the people who practiced, but we must also consider the reasons which impelled it to adopt, almost always the compelling need for people who were in areas with rapid population growth.
After an initial seeding was happening with seeds of grain dropped directly on the ashes and covered as best, needed to clear the ground from the remains of tree stumps and roots that prevented plowing with oxen and then the permanent use of land. From here it can be assumed, in my opinion, the birth of the practice of pooling the forces of the young country's strongest and most enterprising of the ground to remove the remaining underground plant parts. The Focara was subjected to the roots that had suffered the same fate as the first part of the trunk to the ground, which had provided an appropriate amount of ash fertilizer. In confirmation of this report may cite the attention that was placed in ensuring that the wood is completely consumed. He had only ashes remain!
In South, the country that has most linked his name to Focara is Novoli, in the province of Lecce, where it builds Focara the world's largest, more than high 25 meters! The fuel? Vines, clipping of the endless vineyards existing in the region Puglia! Bulky material to be collected and disposed of in a collective celebration. The Focara Novoli takes place 17 January, day dedicated to S. Antonio Abate, related to fire and the Holy animals, and do not appear strange that there is this shift than the Focara Christmas at Christmas because the pruning of the vine has not yet been made. It’ evidently the agricultural cycle that determines the date on which it performs Focara or one of the many other popular rites, and not the other, then a leading position within the religious feast closest. What follows is one of the many movies that can be found on You Tube showing theFOCARA Novoli:
In other parts of Italy there are focare taking place in a different way but, I think, with the same theme. The fire takes, in each, the role of purifying; used to wipe out the evil that had accumulated during the year or the previous season, as is also evident in the fire that destroys the puppet Carnival.
He describes the fires that flared up in the Sorrento Peninsula, in a different time of year, Gaetano Amalfi in the student 1890: «On the eve of the Assumption for all the hills of Sorrento Peninsula are in use Focarazza, fed from the straw of the collection already made. Perhaps this stems from the prohibition imposed by King Charles I of Anjou (Quidem Pridem) not to burn the stubble, ere this time and therefore avoid possible fire. Even on the feast of S. Anthony, a’ 13 of June, the boys buy with a penny for each of the bundles, and make de’ great Focarazza , each of the country larghetto. Such use is now stopping ; bundles and replace it with the light at the Venetian , ie Panarello.» [Gaetano Amalfi, Traditions and customs on the Peninsula, Palermo, Pedestrian Lauriel, 1890, p. 50]
That is talking about Michael Bread, and that many of us remember, however, is a Focara different from that of the origins, according to our reconstruction. In the days of bread in the territory there are few sources of supply of combustible material. Do not you do the more cesine and roots, together with the remains of stumps of trees cut, were fully used for house fire, as mentioned. The same Michael Bread, in poetry Tora, describes how hard it is to combat the cold:
«Veniadi priestu la vecchiarella [It was early in the morning the old woman
and Portavadie 'na Sarcinella e ci portava una fascina
iip 'ni' nde nue to 'na blaze» per farcene noi una vampata]
Or, in Viernu is vicinu:
Allu cannizzu nun's bread cchiù, [In the lattice there is no more bread,
is the utru senz'uogliu mu n'allucimu, l'otre è senza olio per illuminare,
'I mu un'àmu LIGNA scarfàmu non abbiamo legna per riscaldarci]
And then the ritual has turned into a variant that lasted until the 60s or 70s of the twentieth century, and that is the variant that is so sought the wood in the woods or near rivers, it is also asking residents to the poor who had little to their already, the, in extreme cases, deftly removing it from reserves … mal custodite.
Young people took advantage of this rite to give evidence of physical force, skill, courage and groped for the climb in the group, compete for the role of leader. All this was possible because the research, collection and transport of Zucchi required cunning, force, strategy. Yes, because by the time the raw material was scarce – rarely cut a tree – it was necessary to look further and further away from the village and also steal the prey, glimpsed perhaps months before, predators of the neighboring villages who had their eyes focused on the same object.
Of these socio-anthropological fully aware Bread Michael in his poem which tells of the preparation of Focara:
groups in the suttas Jungian Urmu [gathered in groups under the Elm
cumulative s'avia dde do if he thought come fare si pensava
iip 'herringbone FOCARA cchiù the nova per fare una Focara he could new
the CANC avanti, e dare 'e nue 'na prova. than previous year, and put to the test.]
Here in the words of the poet emerge all the elements mentioned above:
– the formation of groups
– planning and strategy
– a Focara always different
– give a proof of his strength and courage
He then goes on:
Dòppu chi s’era tuttu cuncertatu [After everything had been agreed
ognunu s' 'a spilava citu citu each of you duck in silence
'mbersu dduve lu jurnu abbìlettatu sighted during the day to where
Aviad LIGNA; (or biellu dduce and ritu!) wood had; (beautiful and sweet, or ritual!)
nun who restava mancu 'no scigatu non sopravviveva nemmeno uno steccato
cà 'e manu nostre avìanu lu 'njurìtu poiché le nostre mani avevano la frenesia
pped'agguantare 'e ligna chi ricùotu to grab the wood collection
avìanu chilli gìenti, chi cchiù pùotû. those people had, as had been!]
Steps as seats in front of the Church of Adams
And PPEDE’ paise per, pp'ogni vallu [And in every country, in each valley
'N luntane vidie' na Focarelli, in lontananza vedevi una Focarelli
e ad ogn 'ammasunaru sentìe' u gallu e ad ogni pollaio sentivi il gallo
do: Chichiri! cchi beautiful party! fare: doodle-doo! beautiful party that!]
Michele Bread masterfully describes every aspect of the preparation of Focara. The boys, in sera, gathered outside the church to arrange times and actions, dividing the territory, to go and collect firewood from all the places where they had been spotted during the day. Even the fences themselves, places to protect the gardens, resisted, as being made of wood, ended up in their turn become prey for hunters.
This type of wood above and ended between biggest strains (Zucchi) that alone would never have caught fire. Power is used to help then linazza, combing of flax waste after processing with manganese and the thistle. It’ material that provides a temporary but a flame sufficient to ignite dry wood and small, which in turn would have turned i ofucchi, the true guarantor of the long duration of Focara.
Suppose also attention to the direction "E new, above them trimmed seats d’ ‘a gghìesa, avìamu 'n'aria Patriarcale ». The seats are the steps of the church, rather it is the entire perimeter of the churchyard which is raised above the plane of the square, from which the boys were watching the scene unfold met not far: across the country that was enjoying the warmth of Focara so hard that they had made. The "patriarchal air"Is painted on the faces of young men who had passed the test initiation, established fees and mysterious code known only to older men, that those same things they had done and to whom, ultimately, young people aspired to be equated. From the square opposite the church of Adams enjoyed – then as now – a splendid view of Soveria Mannelli and St. Thomas, with their focare that would light up the sky at night (the largest were those of Portapiana and Mannelli). In the distance we could distinguish, or perhaps even those of Castagna Carlopoli, also given the utter darkness of night.
Fòcara in Tomaini (70). Photography by Antonio Serafino Black
The transport of Zucchi from the woods and sometimes very distant, place with the help of a particularcar a “traction human”, a rustic floor triangle with two axles and four wheels wood. The front axle, anchored to the floor with a pivot point of the iron, is allowed to steer if you pulled with a rope, whether operated by the driver sat with his feet on the bandwagon. In the sixties, with the availability of parts from scrapped automobiles or trucks, the wooden wheels were replaced by large ball bearings which guaranteed high-speed asphalt, but then the wagon had become a machine to play rather than an actual means of transport for dirt roads. The copy of which follows the photograph had belonged to Flavio Tomaino, Tomaini died prematurely and living in, who worked passionately with the writer in the collection of objects to be allocated to the Museum of Decollatura Museum of Our Land.
Detail of the rear axle with the braking system
The newly completed FOCARA Casenove – 24 December 2011
At 11,30 of 24 December the Focara Casenove was completed. The Chief fòcararu, Silvio Bevacqua (bottom left), asked me to let you know that he and other friends who have participated in compiling the Focara, This year they have decided to dedicate it to the victims of the train wreck 23 December 1961, which this year marks the 50 anniversary.
As for the power, Silvio sure that everything was carefully prepared. A good dry wood, cardboard and padding – who have taken the place of the odious “tires” so popular a few years ago – ensure a good start of the flames. The focus will be given through an opening that was left at the base of Focara north-west wind in ways that push the flame into the center of the pile.
FOCARA Novoli under construction
I also sent a document which is available at this link: The FOCARA Novoli.
COPYRIGHT © 2012 Giuseppe Musolino
Dear Peppe, as always your work is excellent! A precise and accurate searching,a deep passion that one reads between the lines, some information that really did not know the original.
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