« Eh 'griràmulu tutti cu còri!
Oggi e sempri, viva Maria! »
"Let us all cry out with our hearts!
Now and forever, viva Maria!"
The Madonna della Consolazione is the patron of Reggio Calabria in--you guessed it--Calabria. Her feast is celebrated every year on the second Saturday in September. I am especially eager to share her with you because I recently found some vintage videos of her feast which appear to date from the 1920s or 1930s.
According to tradition, this miraculous Madonna has saved her people from many disasters, both natural and man-made, including the following:
- 1571 - plague
- 1594 - the siege of the Turks
- 1636 - more plague
- 1638 - a catastrophic earthquake
- 1672 - famine
During the procession, the devout transport the Vara which contains an image of the Madonna from the Basilica dell'Eremo to the duomo di Reggio Calabria. She remains there until November 21, the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, when she returns to the Basilica dell'Eremo.
It takes 100 men at a time to support the Vara, which weighs 1,000 kg.
Tarantella: Traditional Music & Dance
In the video above, you may have noticed ornate handicrafts that look like small sculptures. Those are 'Nzuddha, or Nzudda, and they are actually a type of Calabrian dessert! The 'nzuddha is a type of unleavened cookie of Arab origin, made with flour, caramel honey, and aniseed liqueur. It is quite similar to the Neapolitan mustaccioli or the Sicilian mustazzoli. They are difficult to chew, but they are often shaped into beautiful, elaborate designs:
These designs may be taken from Christian symbolism (e.g. fish, doves) or pagan symbolism (e.g. women, snakes), reflecting the dual heritage of Calabria.