WITCH DAZE

di Patricia Della-Piana (1938)

The modern custom of ringing bells and blowing horns to usher in the new year at midnight is actually derived from the old Pagan custom of noisemaking to scare away the evils of the old year. In Molise, Italy, to finish the cycle of Christmas festivities in many villages, the people sing the Maitunate on New Year's eve. They are popular songs made up of two parts: the first one concerning the wishes for the new year and the second one concerning the begging. In wishing a good year to everybody they make fun of the local famous personages with allusions and witty remarks. Groups of young people invade the village streets, knocking at everybody's door to wish a happy new year and begging tasty food. At first such begging is very polite and then it degenerates into curses to force the people to be more generous. At Capracotta, another village on the mountain, they know a stone at the door of the inhabitants, who immediately open it and after being wished a good year, they welcome the young people giving them abundant quantity of food in order to get any curses out of their way. These are the lyrics, in Italian, and in English, of Maitunate:

«Buon inno e buon anno, / è venuto capodanno, / è venuto l'anno nuovo, / Dio protegga queste belle figliole. / Salsiccia, salsiccia, / dammi un po' di salsiccia, / non me ne dare tanto poco / che si sciolgono sul fuoco, / ma una porzione giusta. / Sant'Antonio si accontenta / che se la casa ha perso l'usanza / il prossimo anno possa restare chiusa / (per disgrazia)».

  • P. Della-Piana, Witch Daze. A Perennial Pagan Calendar, Lulu, Raleigh 2009, p. 30.

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