On December 24th this year, in keeping with a beautiful Christmas tradition, the ‘Ndocciata will light up the streets of Agnone, a beautiful town in the province of Isernia, Molise.
As Turin-born writer Alfredo Cattabiani (1937-2003) wrote, “The ‘Ndocciata in Agnone became famous on December 8th, 1996, when it was performed in Piazza San Pietro for the Pope.”
“The ‘ndocce are torches, up to four meter tall, made with spruce wood. They are tied tightly at the base, and then gradually flare out with dry Scotch broom branches inserted in them, in order to make them thicker and more flammable. They are joined in the shape of fans with boards or poles, always in even numbers so the load is balanced. Some ‘ndocce have as many as eighteen elements.”
“At dusk on ‘Vejria’ (Christmas Eve), when the bell tower of the Church of Saint Anthony starts ringing, groups of hundreds of carriers light the ‘ndocce and walk down the main street: the procession is only for men, according to tradition, dressed in folk clothing, like the women who watch.”
“The street turns into a gigantic fire river. The procession also includes large floats where scenes of country life are represented. At the end, the stumps of the ‘ndocce are burnt in a giant bonfire.”
“The celebration continues with a living nativity inside the Villetta Comunale; unlike the many others held in Italy, this one changes every year because it is based on a specific theological theme, featured in the first part of the nativity. The second part is a representation of the traditional scenes from the Bible: the Annunciation, the Holy Family’s journey, the Birth, and the final Adoration.”
“The event is topped off by the many artistic nativities on display in the historical entrance halls of Agnone, which is known all over the world for its expert bell makers” (translated from A. Cattabiani, “Lunario”, Mondadori, Milan 1994).