Petralia Soprana (Sicilia) – One of the highlights of our stay in Sicily was this very colorful International Festival of Folklore held in Raffo (a small fraction of Petraia Soprana in the Parco delle Madonie). Organized in conjunction with the Sagra del salgemma, a celebration of the salt crystal from the salt mines in Raffo, the event hosted several nationalities in an evening of traditional song and dance. Groups from Mexico, Slovenia, Poland and Venezuela joined in with representatives from Calabria and Sicily (particularly from the Madonie area) for a multi-ethnical exchange of cultures. The Ballo della cordella sull’Aia (Dance of the ribbons on the threshing floor) reminded me of the Maypole dances for spring. The difference here is that the roots of this traditional dance stem from ties to Ceres, goddess of agriculture and abundance, in gratitude for the harvest at year’s end. This was really fun to watch, the enthusiasm of the dancers showing in every step and facial expression. It was difficult to get good shots from where we stood but I was so happy to get the one of the little girl above in mid-hop. Being the youngest in the group, it ended in a hilarious moment when the emcee asked her if the older kids were the better dancers. ‘No’ she replied, because the older kids are always distracted by their girlfriend or boyfriend!
A small band of folk musicians set the gay and lively tempo and one musical instrument in particular caught my attention. The scacciapensieri translates to thoughts-chaser although it’s known as a mouth or jaw harp by english speakers. Thanks to Crocodile Dundee, I’ve always associated the harp with the australian outback even if my husband recalls that the scacciapensieri (SKAH-chah-pen-see-EHR-ree) has always been part of sicilian culture. Naturally I had to get one as a souvenir but it’ll take awhile til I can manage a decent tune!