It doesn't probably exist at the world
other event able to involve a whole population in so global way, to
characterize the identity and the affiliation of a social group. It's perhaps
the enigma prince of among anthropologists, sociologists and researchers of
popular traditions have lavished for extricating the plots that weave in this
unusual party. Its origins are ancient, and they go beyond the celebrations in
honour of the bishop Ubaldo, even though the Corsa dei Ceri develops
every year the on 15th May, anniversary of the death of the
protecting saint. In the demonstration, besides the religious character,
converge elements of the folklore typical of the age of the low Middle Ages,
fed by pagan myths tied to the advent of the spring, the fertilisation and the
cult of the goddess Cerere. The Ceri don't resemble to enormous candles,
but with theirs 7 meters high are wooden octagonal prism that directly recalls
the phallic symbolism. On the summit of the three ceri, on the occasion of the
run, there are the statues of the three saints, Sant'Ubaldo, patron and
protector of the masons, San Giorgio, protecting the dealers and Sant'Antonio,
protecting the farmers and the students.
What happens on May 15th
The morning soon the Captains and
the Capodieci go with the ceraioli in St. Francis Church of
the Peace, where the mass is celebrated and where the statues of the three
saints are guarded, which are withdrawn and placed on the top of the three ceri
after a procession that ends to the Palazzo dei Consoli. At 12 o'clock
pm, after the sound of the bell, among the jubilant population the ceri are
raised, according to specific ritual, during which the tradition is celebrated
to break three pitchers of water launching them among the crowd in sign
of good wish. After this phase the ceri are made to complete various turns and
runs, up to bring them in the native horizontal position in via Savelli
della Porta. At 6 pm the real run brgins, with a new raising preceded by a
procession and by the benediction of the bishop. The ceri are ready to run as
quickly as possible. They return in Piazza della Signoria and when the
mayor launches the special signal they do three spins around the plaza and they
goes through narrow lanes, toward the Basilica of Sant'Ubaldo. One of
the particularities of the run are that it is not a real '' competition '', and
is not a race at all, since during the run it's not possible that the ceri are
overcome, both because the streets where they pass are too tightened, both
because the tradition doesn't foresee it. The order of arrival is always the
same, and is unchangeable: first comes Sant'Ubaldo, follows San Giorgio and
closes Sant'Antonio. The mastery of the run consists of behaving on the best
way during it, in effecting fast and precise changes among the various ceraioli
who transport the ceri, in outdistancing as much as possible the cero that
follows, and if possible, to close the portal of the Basilica of Sant'Ubaldo to
delay its access.
Brief glossary of the Run of Ceri
" RAISING - movement of the
ceri that are erected in vertical position from the horizontal position to be
transported through the stretchers.
" STRECHER - wooden support
set at the base of the cero inside which two aces are inserted for allowing to
the ceraioli its transport.
" BIRATA - turn, a circular
spin made from the ceraioli to the cero.
" BROCCA - classical container
that is made to oscillate from the Capodieci in the moment of the raising and
launched among the crowd that is trying to gain at least a crock to hold as
precious memory and as source of good wish.
" CAPITANI - key figures of
the run. They are extracted at two years of distance and select among the
participants to the University of the Masons or Stonecutters. They are
two, and they have great importance in the celebrations. The Captain Primo is responsible of the run in the city, while the Capitano Secondo is
responsible of the raising of the morning and the run on the Mount Ingino.
" CAPODIECI - they are three,
each responsible of his own cero, of the muta and of the whole run. They are
elected basing on the attachment to the cero, of the moral qualities, physics
and human. They command the teams composed of 10 ceraioli that will have to
transport the cero and they preside every ceremony and demonstration of the
" CERAIOLO - who transports
the cero on shoulder with stretchers on which wood aces are inserted. Every
citizen born to Gubbio or who remarkable worthies that have brought him to be
included has achieved can be ceraiolo. In the choice of the ceraioli it counts
very much the attachment to the cero and the tradition of family.
" CERO - tall wood structure
around 7 meters composed by two overlapped octagonal prisms. To the base it is
situated the stretcher that allows its transport by the ceraioli, while on the
summit there are respectively put the statues of Sant'Ubaldo, San Giorgio and Sant'Antonio.
" MUTA - change effected among
the ceraioli that transport the cero and other ceraioli that place side by side
them and that they take their place in movement in pre-arranged places. It's
one among the most delicate moments for the cero and that needs great
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