It’s Primo maggio, now crack 3 walnuts


Buona Festa del Lavoro, or Happy Int’l Worker’s Day, or even May Day or Lei Day depending on where you are in the world. The current spring weather, unpredictable as it is, does have an upside no matter how glum the forecast – can you believe this view? Even my neighbor called out to make sure I had spotted the rainbow. This was taken yesterday, and now today being the 1st of May and a national holiday in Italy, programmed events and festivities of all sorts are in full force. An ancient walnuts-in-wine ritual of Paganico Sabino (Lazio) is one that really grabbed my interest and I we hope get to experience it for ourselves in the future.

For the Rito del Kalennemàju in Paganico Sabino, determining the outcome of the harvest is as straightforward as floating your walnuts. This is done in the morning before eating anything, and the following phrase is recited just before dropping the freshly cracked kernels into a glass of red:

San Felippu e Jacu
Faccio a Calennemaju
Se moro affonno
Se no retorno

I don’t know the dialect to offer a precise english translation, but the gist of it is that if the walnuts float, it means a good season. The ritual is followed by the Sagra dei Vertuti, an event involving a soup made with a mixed variety of legumes and cereals, then flavored with olive oil and local herbs. I threw together my own version using barley, borlotti beans, coco blancs, black-eyed peas, leeks, thyme, parsley, and santoreggia.

Rito del Kalennemàju

This is the first time where we’ve busted out the wine before 9am (and still in our jammies), but I guess we can expect a bountiful 2014? Still, judging from this video, Paganico Sabino is where all the fun’s at.


6 thoughts on “It’s Primo maggio, now crack 3 walnuts

    1. Rowena Post author

      When I caught sight of that rainbow, it did remind me of Hawaii a tiny bit. But then I head the cucu birds in the forest and noted that they are much more pleasant-sounding than mynah birds!


    1. Rowena Post author

      Glad you love the traditions! It is, and should be, one of the top reasons for visiting this country. No way else to better experience the cultural roots.



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