Maypole - Regional Traditions - Piceno (Italy)

Piceno (Italy)

After the Napoleonic campaign, the arbre de la liberté (Liberty Tree), the symbol of the French Revolution, arrived in Italy, in the south of the Marche region (Piceno) too, where it was erected in Ripatransone and Ascoli Piceno. In 1889, the first congress of the Second International, met in Paris for the centennial of the French Revolution and the Exposition Universelle. A proposal by Raymond Lavigne, called for international demonstrations on the 1890 anniversary of the Chicago protests. After the International Workers' Day the maypole rite in south of the Marche (Piceno) became a socialist ritua. At the top of the tree (poplar) appeared the red flag. In the second half of the 20th century the rite of the maypole in Piceno is always a rite of celebration of spring but it became more and more a political symbol of the peasant movement (mezzadri) that struggled against the landowners to have decent living conditions. Every year, even today, on the night of 30th April, in many villages of Piceno like Appignano del Tronto, Arquata del Tronto, Ascoli Piceno, Castorano, Castignano, Castel di Lama, Colli del Tronto, Grottammare, Monsampolo del Tronto, Porchia (Montalto Marche), Monteprandone, Offida, Rotella, Spinetoli, San Benedetto del Tronto, citizens cut a poplar on which they put-up a red flag and the tree is erected in village squares or at crossroads.

«After we've gone to get the pole in thirty or forty people, we placed it like a six month child. We walked in procession with this tree and not even a single leaf had to touch the ground. We had to raise it without making it touch the ground, holding it in our arms like a child. For us it was the saint of the 1st of May»

Quirino Marchetti (ancient peasant of San Benedetto del Tronto)

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