In Bova, Reggio Calabria there are feverish final preparations happening before the Procession of the Puppets, the charming and ancient rite that takes place on Palm Sunday to commemorate the entry of Christ into Jerusalem. A moment of choral sacredness which involves the whole community of the picturesque Greek village in the province of Reggio Calabria. The inhabitants of this jewel of architecture and art is the approval to live again, after the millennia, an ancestral tradition dating back to Greek Byzantine traditions, to remember the rituals of the prehistoric peoples who used them to evoke “Mother Earth” with propitiatory rites of crop gathering and fertility, and the Greek myth of Persephone and her mother Demeter, goddess of agriculture.
Although its origin is not yet clear, it remains ac harming symbolic custom, social collector as well as an anthropologic ritual. Indeed, to prepare for the procession these masterpieces of creativity in the weeks preceding Palm Sunday, the Bova families gather to assemble puppets, imposing female figures made with olive leaves and decorated using fresh field flowers, fruits and vegetables and fruit fresh. Work once done by farmers weaving with skill and patience the olive leaves around a cane called “steddha.”
Sunday these singular figures, with their cheerful colors and interesting shapes, will parade through the streets of the picturesque village, to the sanctuary of San Leo, the main church of Bova. After the blessing, the “sculptures” will be brought out of the church, amongst the people, which begins the second part of the ritual: the puppets will be broken apart and “steddhe” will be distributed among the spectators. These steddei are considered good luck, some put the olive branch on a tree on their own land and leave it there for a year as a sign of a blessing, while others put the olive braids on their bedroom walls, others on shelves, along with images of saints and pictures of their family. Finally, there are those who use the blessed leaves for “sfumicari,” that is, removing the evil eye from the house, including its inhabitants.”
The event takes place in Bova Superiore, in the province of Reggio Calabria, at 10.00 a.m. in Piazza Roma. We invite you to experience a day in the Greek Byzantine tradition within the wonderful scenery offered by this beautiful village, rich in history and art, and to sample the delights of this Easter tradition.
For info on how to get to Bova Superiore see: http://www.roadonmap.com/it/come-arrivare-a/Bova,calabria