Thursday, February 7, 2013

Dance With Devils In Sicily This Spring

March 16, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel Guide

The village of Prizzi lies 50 miles south of Palermo, in quiet countryside rich with Sicily’s history and long-held religious traditions. But anyone on holiday in Sicily during Holy Week, in  April, may be surprised at the display.

Celebrating the struggle between the forces of good and evil, the village’s Easter ceremonies are mostly familiar from the Christian calendar. However, whilst some are conventional, peaceful and sober, others are unrestrained expressions of delighted devilry.

In Prizzi, the figure of Death, and assembled acolytes, celebrate the crucifixion with unruly pagan delight, animated by grimly-masked and costumed figures’ that dance to music through the streets.

This extraordinary performance begins at dawn, intending to make enough noise and visual distraction to upset religious activity in the town, which the macabre masquerade haunts in stages.

The performers’ wear iron masks of blood-red, that both grin or grimace, with threateningly bared teeth. They also point long leather tongues at spectators, blast on trumpets and rattle their chains, in hope of claiming the souls of all they meet en route.

Representing Satan’s ambition to prevent Easter week’s momentous culmination, the dance concludes when the devils are finally slain by angels, silenced by their failure to prevent the return of the resurrected Christ, to join the Virgin Mary. A huge feast inevitably follows.

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