Anne's Blog

In January, Le Pasquarelle Warm Up Cascia

Date: January 21, 2019 - categories: , , , , , , , - 2 Comments

On the week-end after the feast of  the beloved St. Anthony Abbot (January 17th), the blessings of the animals takes place all over Italy.  Many a medieval hilltown fetes Sant’Antonio for days after with a string of folkloristic events. Like those in S. Maria degli Angeli near Assisi.

A few years ago, we were in Cascia for their late January events.

This year, we returned to this medieval mountain town for the singing competition of le pasquarelle, rural songs announcing the Birth of Christ, the arrival of the Magi and bringing good wishes for health and prosperity in the New Year.

Over twenty groups of singers of le pasquarelle – called “pasquellari” – from all over central Italy had gathered in Cascia for the event. Even before the competition started, groups of pasquellari were playing here and there, warming up:

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Other pasquellari were sharing espressi before heading to the stage:

….and on stage, with what passione the organetto musicians  (young ones, too!) played and children of all ages and adults joined in song:

 

And what joy to see the passionate interaction of all ages, teens with the little ones, the elderly flanked by the younger set:

….and that six-year-old Edoardo is a whiz on the organetto, playing by ear:

Many of the musicians  were in costume: the Blessed Virgin Mary sang in a couple groups, as did caped shepherds, many with the typical sheep’s wool leggings over their pants and sheep’s wool hats as part of their costume.   In some groups, the Magi  in elegant robes belted out le pastorelle.

 

Some groups performed il saltarello  or other Umbria folk dances before or during the singing:

Befana (linguistically rooted in “epifania“) –  the good witch who fills the stockings of children on January 5th (the vigil of her day) – joined many a pasquarella group:
 

The music filled the Cascia piazza as we headed home, wondering which group the jury would choose as winner.

Not a surprise to learn the next day that it was one of our favorites, a talented group from Corese Terra near Rieti (Latium)….

…and the first pasquellari we’d heard playing that afternoon in Cascia!

Alas, I took no videos at the pasquarelle competition but you can see – and hear!  – the winners during a past Cascia competition if you simply click here.

They’ve competed in Cascia for twenty-five years.  I wonder if they’ll be back next year. We certainly will.

Click here to see another group of pasquellari 

Read about good eating at this memorable Cascia festival

Enjoy the pasquerella songs here

Read about other Cascia pleasures here

Read about Peppa, Sant’Antonio, and il malocchio

Click here for Cascia pasquellara passione

2 Comments

  • Mary Cappiello says:

    What I love about your articles on the celebrations that take place year after year is seeing, through your photos, how much the townspeople get into them, ie., the costumes, the music, the throngs of people celebrating together. It’s moving and magical to see.

  • Anne Robichaud says:

    Mary, wish you and Matt could join us next year for the good times…and SI! the “passione” of the locals at such festivals always astounds

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