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Prossecione dei serparri

We all know that Italy is home to a lot of wonderful and wacky festivals. They exhibit Italy’s rich antiquity, the amazing architecture and the ambrosial food and wine. But do you know, that embedded in Italy’s Hisss…tory is one such tale that will get you slithering to read more…

What?

Processione Dei Serpari- Italy’s Snake Festival

Where?

Cocullo, Italy

When?

First Thursday of May

So what exactly is this?

This festival takes place on the first Thursday of every May. It isn’t a celebration of snakes, per se, but a commemoration of the village saint, St. Dominic, who rid the area of venomous serpents. The village built St. Dominic’s statue to honour his work and this statue, adorned with jewels, banknotes and live snakes is carried through the village. This supposedly leaves the villagers immune to snake bites for another year. The snakes are harmless and have no bite at all. The villagers round up nearby non-venomous snakes and defang them a month before the ritual.

Getting slithery

Things kick off around 10 a.m., when the participants begin to place the serpents on the statue. The actions of the snakes during the parade are read like tea leaves: If the snakes coil around St. Dominic’s head, the village is in for a good harvest. If the snakes slither towards the statue’s arms, it is bad news for everyone. Centuries ago, the snakes were cooked and eaten after the procession. But now, the squirming mass is treated as pets and is eventually released back into the wild. Instead of snake meat, a sweet, ring-shaped bread resembling a coiled snake is baked and gobbled up. And it is definitely more appetising if you’re vegetarian!

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Shriya Chitnis Shriya is an 18 year old commerce student and a German enthusiast. Crazy about dogs, and a huge animal lover, she also has innate love for all sports and is a national level Basketball player. An avid reader and unfamiliar with the world of writing, she is now entering these uncharted waters with vigour and gusto.