La Benediga – Wedding Tradition in Vernazza
Old traditions stay alive
Any village, every country and every religion has its own wedding traditions, especially if we focus on places and people with a long history, and, still now, in 2017, when many family tradition have been lost, wedding ceremonies and prelude moments to the big day resist strongly to innovation and globalisation, not only in small communities but also in towns and cities.
An interesting article appeared on the National Geographic magazine offers us a nice reportage of long lasting wedding traditions picked all over the world.
We like to add this article on the “Benediga” (the blessing) wedding tradition followed in Vernazza, the famous village of the Cinque Terre Riviera
In Vernazza, for instance, every wedding is the opportunity to show happiness and wealth of the family on that special occasion. So, once the religious or civil rite is done, the wedding couple triumphantly proceeds along the villages streets and reaches a well positioned balcony. And the “BENEDIGA” tradition begins for the happiness of all the citizens and tourists that happen to be there, under that balcony.
Bride and groom make their appearance on the balcony and throw huge amounts of candies and confetti on the people, a sweet shower that delights mostly old people and children.
Villagers love “fighting for the candy loot”
…and “fight” for the biggest loot bag begins! The fiercest and toughest to be defeated in getting candies are the elderly, their experience on hundreds of “benediga” make them wise and fast in putting aside the youngest ones and collect heavy bags full of candies and confetti!
There’s a challenge in the village for every family to boast the heaviest amount of candies to be gifted for the “benediga”. Latest chronicles talk of about 150 kg. of sweets thrown on the village main square. And from a fifth floor balcony! So, be careful, visitors, when Benediga is going on (and over your heads!)
Benediga for Christening
Benediga tradition extends even to Christening ceremonies, when the happy parents or godparents proudly show to all the village the newborn! The origin of Benediga for weddings and Christenings come probably from the need of new families to get approval and good wishes from the community.
Guido Allegrezza in his blog on La Benediga so tells us about this tradition in his article Benediga! Un unicum di Vernazza
“Un evento come la benediga dà concreta manifestazione al senso di appartenenza alla comunità, ne costituisce una sorta di liturgia che la identifica e la unifica attorno ad un evento nel quale la comunità saluta un evento e ne recupera il senso più misterioso, antico e profondo.”
(An event as la benediga gives real expression of the sense of belonging to a community, it points out the liturgy that identifies the community itself and gathers it around an event saluted and blessed by its people, that collect, this way, its misterious, ancient and deep meaning”).
Guido Allegrezza also finds and publishes a precious writing from Ettore Cozzani (La Spezia 03 jan 1884 – Milan 22 jun 1971, famous editor and writer from La Spezia, founder of L’Eroica
Ettore Cozzani leaves us an article with a lively image of a Christening Benediga, reporting the words youths used to recite in traditional dialect under the benediga balcony
– Compà, Comà nissoe!
Caccène a benediga se no, u vostro fante u ve moe! –
(Godfather, Godmother, come out! Throw Benediga on us otherwise your child won’t be nice)
Now, Benediga shows keep on going on in Vernazza and almost every week visitors have the opportunity for enjoying this funny and peculiar event. So keep your eyes up and bring an empty bag with you when visiting Vernazza next time. It might be your “Benediga” time! And all couples, even foreign ones, wishing to get married in Vernazza could benefit of this tradition and become part of the village community forever!