The Procession of the Passing Year
Every year on the 30th and 31st of December, an Italian village, in the central region of Le Marche, (situated between the Apennine hills and the Adriatic coast) plays host to one of the most evocative and folkloristic Italian events.The historical centre of Appignano del Tronto becomes the live stage for ‘La Processione dell’anno vecchio’ the traditional procession of the passing year, remembering the outgoing year and celebrating the start of the new year to come.
The 30th of December is the day of the Vigil for the passing year. One finds a heady mix of street performers, food and drink, along with a dose of magic, superstition, frenzy, goliardery and the uncontrollable grief of the participants meeting in the lavish ‘Camera Ardente’ where the mourners hold vigil. In this room, time seems to stop and the ‘Priest’ and his faithful ‘Sacristan’ recite a comical and clumsy form of funeral liturgy for the passing year which together with the harrowing lament of the mourners, accompanies the passing year, during its final hours.
On the 31st December immediately after the “Dinner for the Close Relatives of the Deceased”, sacred and profane come together in a funeral procession formed by comical characters and costumes symbolizing the different months of the year, which, accompanied by the trumpeting band parade through the streets of the town bringing memorial wreaths and reciting archaic litanies. The torches of the mourners combined with the flickering candles in the village alleyways light the way for the “Bishop” who with his colorful miter and stentorian tones, officiates the funeral procession sprinkling bystanders with wine. Next comes a cart led by the human ox and donkey, which proceeds to shake and seems to fall apart at every turn. On the cart lies the coffin containing the passing year that at the stroke of midnight will be lit in the main square of the town where, between flasks of wine and fireworks, the new year will be welcomed. In the great bonfire all the participants will throw the misfortunes, the adversities, the bad luck, in short all the negativities that have characterized the old year, freeing in the minds of everyone the hope for a better year. Greetings of those present intertwine and multiply in the splendid setting of Appignano del Tronto under the night sky which is painted a thousand colors by a spectacular fireworks display, while the passing year, engulfed by the flames, will have nothing left but a heap of smoking ashes.
PRO LOCO di APPIGNANO DEL TRONTO
Via Roma, 63083 Appignano del Tronto
TEL.: 340 783 6810