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