The Past ‘Interpreter’. Historical Stratifications in the Ritual Symbolism of Saint Joseph Festivals and Holy Week in Sicily

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The themes of cultural continuity and ‘survival’ of ritual symbolism have been at the centre ofdebate in the anthropological and historical religious fields. They became topical again in relation to theissue of the patrimonialization of ‘traditional’ religious festivals such as Saint Joseph and Holy Week,festivals whose ritual symbolism (sacred banquet, procession, evergreen branches, ritual breads, songs and dances) shows an evident pre-Christian and agrarian root. A number of questions emerge about both the usefulness of historical sources (archaeological and documentary) with regard to the understanding of contemporary ritual reality, and about the issue of the chronological continuity of practices and beliefs; these deserve to be reconsidered on the basis of renewed research and observations, considering the dissolution of what has been defined as ‘rural civilization’ and the renewed interests towards immaterial patrimony by communities searching for their identity matrices. We can and must go back to asking ourselves: can material and immaterial tokens of the past, even the remotest ones, help us understand what we observe in current festive contexts?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-62
Number of pages23
JournalDISTANT WORLDS JOURNAL
Volume4
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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