Ladin traditions in Alta Badia: customs, festivities and beliefs
Some old Ladin traditions have not been preserved as they were forgotten or got lost over the course of time.
The Ladin population is very religious. For this reason most traditions are connected to catholic festivities.
"Granara de saresc" also called "granara dal belori"
This is Palm Sunday. A great day for children as they are allowed to bring a "palm broom" made from palm and olive branches with wonderful decorative bands to church, where it is consecrated by the priest. Once at home these palm brooms are attached to the fences surrounding the homes. This custom is believed to keep disgrace from the family and to protect all those living in the house.
It does not matter how big or small the "granara" is, but it is important that it does not fall out of the hands of the child carrying it.
"Pechè" or "cufé"
At Easter the male inhabitants play "cufè" with coloured eggs: with the tip of the egg the participant hits the tip of the egg of his opponent. The person whose egg does not break also gets his opponent's egg.
The winner is the one with the most eggs. This day is called "Segra dai Üs", which means "Egg Festival".
"Jì a üs" – collecting eggs
On Easter Monday the young boys go to the girls of the village and try to get as many eggs as possible as a gift. A rule says that everyone has to get at least two eggs from the girl. 4 eggs for the boys they don't like, 6 eggs for those they love, 12 eggs for the fiancé.
This tradition is based on the fact that boiled eggs were once regarded as a delicacy – afterwards these eggs were used for the game of "pechè" and "cufé".
They play music and dance.
Santa Maria dal Ciüf Festival
On August 15th the "Santa Maria dal Ciüf" Festival (Saint Mary of the Flower) takes place. This is one of the most beautiful festivals of the year.
The female farmers bring a basket with medicinal herbs, flour, salt and flowers into church for the priest to consecrate. This basket is then kept at home and as soon as the first storm arrives the basket is burned in the fireplace.
Le ćiaval y la iarina (=the horse and the chicken)
At All Saints children receive presents and a special type of bread from their godmothers or godfathers: the boys receive bread in the shape of a horse and the girls in the shape of a chicken.
"Donacia" or "Poscignara"
On January 6th young girls dress up as "Poscignara". The Poscignara is an ugly old women who goes from house to house to chase away ghosts and the past year. They wear dark and old clothes and have a broomstick in their hand. On their back they have a basket to take away bold children. They are crookbacked, have an ugly big nose and usually only one tooth. Their voice is hoarse and their hair grey.
In the houses these women get food and drinks.
The day before the village festival the "carfuns da segra", a type of pancake, are baked. This is lots of work and since these pancakes are not made often they are very popular. Hence, the youngsters from nearby villages go to the houses to "ask" for these pancakes. In ancient times they also used to dress up and make noise with pots, bells and horns. Usually the youngsters from the nearby villages used to go to the houses where the most beautiful girls lived. Once in the house they eat the "crafuns da segra", dance and sing.
Some wedding traditions
"Fortaies" is a pastry made out of egg, milk and flour in the shape of a spiral and covered with powder sugar. These treats are put on the table on the evening the groom enters the house of the bride for the wedding preparations. According to the tradition friends of the groom, the neighbours or others who are interested in the girl come and steal the "Fortaies".
"Parada" & "fà la sarada"
"Parades" are organised on the wedding day in order to block off the way to the church. Often, the groom, his love stories and other mad stories about him are the central theme of these parades. They try to convince the bride that she has made the wrong choice. The maid of honour of the bride has to pay in order to free the way to church. A wedding with "parades" is a great experience that nobody should miss out on. The "parades" are not taken seriously, it's comedies and jokes organised by friends.
The first "parade" is paid for by the bride, the next parades are paid for by the maid of honour.
Hats with feathers
A wedding is a great occasion to get to know and/or find a partner. In order to avoid misunderstandings there are clear signs for recognising who is married and who is not. All wedding guests receive a flower to be attached to the button hole. Those who are married will attach it to the right and the unmarried guests to the left. Furthermore, unmarried men attach long coloured feathers to their hat.
"Barbücia" & "ćiora müla"
"Barbücia" is a piece of green coloured wool in the shape of a heart. This is sold to the eldest unmarried brothers of the bridal couple.
"Ciora müla" is the goat which is sold to the eldest brother of the bride. The "Barbücia" and the "ciora müla" are sold by young boys from the village who dress up. It's no honour at all to have to buy these. You are then recognised as "müt vedl" (= "unmarried man") "müta vedla" (= "unmarried women") by everyone.
"Tò la nöcia" or "rubè la nöcia"
It's a tradition that the friends of the bridal couple steal the bride during the wedding party. They bring her to nearby bars for drinking, dancing and singing. In the meantime the groom and the other guests wait for the wedding witness of the bride to bring her back. In order to be able to take the bride he has to find her and pay the bill, hence the drinks of the entire party in the bar.