La Pagliara in Fossalto (Molise)

Christmas in the month of May? Not even close. The tree is called La Pagliara, and it leads a jubilant parade that winds through the streets of Fossalto. Like so many of these italian celebrations, this ritual stems from ancient origins in a personification of the fertile month of May. While it tours through the village, residents open up their doors and windows to throw buckets of water on it, at the same time shouting “Rascia, Maje!” (Abundance, May!). Constructed in the shape of a cone and covered entirely with branches, flowers and fava beans, the tree has an opening for the person wearing it to see out. I can only imagine how heavy that thing is. The rest of the entourage was made up of Zampogna musicians and children carrying urns of water, with everyone else following behind.

La Pagliara in Fossalto La Pagliara in Fossalto

1. Pre-parade: the Pagliara is displayed in a courtyard behind the church.
2. Coming through the corridor.
3. Girls dressed in traditional costume and carrying water urns.

La Pagliara in Fossalto La Pagliara in Fossalto La Pagliara in Fossalto

4. A mother explaining La Pagliara to her son?
5. Proceeding to the lower part of the village.
6. A man throws a bucket of water onto La Pagliara.

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