The religious festivals of Sardinia
The most important religious celebrations in Sardinia
In Sardinia there are millennial traditions thanks to which it is possible to attend folklore shows and cultural events typical of the archaic culture of the island. The religious tradition is consistently present, which allows each year to celebrate important events in spring and summer that attract the curiosity of thousands of tourists from all over the world. The religious festivals take place from the North to the South of the island, with breathtaking cultural performances.
Feast of Sant’Efisio
The festival of Sant’Efisio is celebrated in Cagliari every year since 1657 in the month of May and can be considered the most important and symbolic Religious Festival of Sardinia. It is certainly one of the events with the greatest participation of visitors, indeed it attracts the attention and curiosity of tourists from every corner of the planet and is certainly among the most important spring events in Italy.
The festival has archaic origins, dating back to the great plague epidemic that afflicted the city of Cagliari in 600. It was the politicians of Cagliari, with a vote, to ask for the grace of Sant’Efisio to free the city from the ordeal, promising to bring the statue of the martyred saint in a procession from the small church of the district of Stampace, to the place of his martyrdom, in the Church of Nora. The request became a reality and it was in this way that the abundant rains cleared the city and defeated the plague. On the 1st of May of the following year, the vote was dissolved and the first procession took place: from that moment on, the festival is celebrated every year. The procession guarantees an evocative show. The carabinieri on horseback open the procession, followed by the Traccas, meaning lavish work carts decorated for the party and pulled by oxen. Follow the folk groups from all over the island, which show off the richness of their traditional clothes, accompanying the saint with the prayers typical of the country of origin. The procession closes with the religious and political authorities of the city of Cagliari, followed by the faithful. The procession takes place on May 1 and the saint returns to Cagliari on May 4th. Since 2009, the Festival has the patronage of UNESCO, demonstrating that the importance of this feast of the Sardinians and Efisio has exceeded the islanders, enjoying admiration even by tourists who come every year more and more from every part of the world to attend the long-awaited Festival and participate in the evocative moments of emotion, solemnity and devotion, which characterize the city during these days of celebration.
The Sardinian Ride-La cavalcata sarda
From a temporal point of view follows the Cavalcata Sarda, a folk and secular event held every year in Sassari on the penultimate Sunday in May. A combination of colors and beauty, tradition and culture, which will celebrate its 70th edition in 2019. Also this festival has dated origins, precisely the first edition took place in 1711 in homage to King Philip V of Spain. At the event participated all the Sassari nobility, proud to show off their traditional costumes. Starting from 1951, at the will of the mayor of Sassari, the festival is celebrated every year attracting the attention of thousands of tourists. The parade includes the participation of folk groups from most of the Sardinian countries and the traditional Traccas, the party-decorated carts. The festival continues in the afternoon where the parades performed by the best Sardinian jockeys will take place in the municipal hippodrome. Following in Piazza Italia the performance of folk groups in songs and dances typical of the countries of origin, giving tourists a fascinating show. In the link below you can consult the list of groups that took part in the event in 2018 https://www.paradisola.it/sagre-sardegna/cavalcata-sarda/2269-gruppi-partecipanti
Ardia of St. Constantine
S’Ardia of St. Constantin is a traditional religious event held in Sedilo, in the province of Oristano, on 6 and 7 July each year. It consists of a ritual procession on horseback with three final stages of travel to reach the sanctuary dedicated to the Roman emperor Constantine I (called in Sardinian language Santu Antinu) who in 312 defeated Maxentius, in the battle of Ponte Milvio. Despite events that fall within the profile of the Ardia, in many other centers of the island, the most structured and consolidated is the Ardia di Santu Antinu of Sedilo. It is a very symbolic and characteristic festival. The ritual begins in the moment in which the three head race, gathered together with the other riders in front of the parish house, receive from the priest the blessed banners (Sas Pandelas): the first yellow gold, the second red, the third white. The head of the mission, designated by the priest, has the task of leading the Ardia, flanked by two other riders chosen by him who have the task together with the stocks that the group leader is reached by the other riders, a symbol of paganity. The overcoming of the first pandela represents the victory of paganism over Christianity. The route is initially stony and steep, then forced into the arch of St. Constantin, from which the dusty column reaches the sanctuary at a gallop. The set of knights performs around the sanctuary an unknown number of revolutions in a clockwise direction which, generally, varies from five to seven. The knights, as always at the behest of the first flag, rush to sa muredda, a circular wall in the center of which there is a cross, also performing a certain number of turns in a clockwise and then anticlockwise direction. The inversion serves to resume the right verse to face the last gallop climb towards the church.
We can deduce from this description how the ardia is in itself a totally spectacular and characteristic manifestation, rich in religious tradition that every year brings thousands of curious people to this quaint village.
The Candlestick-I Candelieri
La Faradda di li candareri or just Faradda (in Sassari’s Descent of the candlesticks) is the festival held in Sassari on August 14th, the night before the feast of Our Lady of the Assumption (August) and is an Oral and Intangible Heritage of Unesco humanity since 2013. According to tradition, the religious festival was born from a vow made to the Madonna dell’Assunta, who saved the city from the plague of 1652. The descent consists of a dancing procession in which they are carried on the shoulder, by the representatives of the gremi, the candlesticks, or symbolic candles made in the form of large wooden columns. The party is also part of the network of large Italian shoulder machines. The celebration is followed every year by thousands of people who come to Sassari from all over the world. Surely it is one of the most characteristic feasts of Sardinia, given the particularity and the spectacularity of the dances performed by the various gremi throughout the course of the Descent. In the video below you can see all the Gremi who participate almost every year at the big event.
Festival of the Redeemer of Nuoro
In a land of enchanting beauty and inviolable as the Barbagia, every year at the end of August thousands of people participate or assist in the most engaging religious manifestation of Sardinia: the Feast of the Redeemer of Nuoro. The Sagra was born as a tribute to the statue of the Redeemer who from 1901 dominates the city of Nuoro from Monte Ortobene and takes place on the last Sunday of august. The Festival has taken on ever stronger folk characteristics and in fact today there are two distinct moments dedicated, respectively, to religious celebrations and the spectacular parade of folk groups from the entire island. The majestic parade of traditional costumes, the parade of knights and the Regional Festival of Popular Traditions are therefore an event that attracts the attention of thousands of curious people who are exalted every year for the colors, the music and the variety of costumes. The festival therefore has a strong religious and tourist importance and represents the intense bond that the city of Nuoro has with Mount Ortobene, which dominates the entire municipality. The participating groups come from all over Sardinia and are both folk groups with typical costumes and groups of traditional carnival masks.
Ancient Selargino Wedding-Antico sposalizio selargino
In the beginning of September is celebrated in Selargius, in the province of Cagliari, the last of the annual events dedicated to traditional religious rites. Even the Selargino marriage, Sa Coja Antiga, has archaic origins dating back to the maritime customs of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but it is only since the sixties that this tradition has resumed life. It is an event symbol of faith, tradition and identity, a triumph of culture and ethnic wealth that allows the many tourists who decide each year to participate, to appreciate the ancestral Sardinian culture. The salient features of the ceremony are the dressing of the spouses, the wedding procession, the parade in the streets of the city and finally the arrival in the church of the Blessed Virgin Assumption where the wedding will be celebrated. At the event will be present the groups of many countries of Sardinia that, dressed up, will create a mosaic of traditions and colors that will make this party so unforgettable. Event not to be missed, thanks to which you can relive the ancient island tradition and the genuineness of its culture.