Easter celebrations in Oliena

“S’Incontru” or “the meeting”
Easter Sunday in Oliena is one of the highlights, “S’Incontru” or “the meeting” as it’s called in Sardinian. After the resurrection of Christ, he re-unites with Mary. Two parades with

Easter and the Holy Week (“La Settimana Santa”) that precedes it is pretty much the most important festival in Sardinia, even more important than Christmas.It goes to show that the locals call Christmas “Pasqua di Natale” or “Easter of Christmas”.

“S’Incontru” or “the meeting”

Easter Sunday in Oliena is one of the highlights, “S’Incontru” or “the meeting” as it’s called in Sardinian. After the resurrection of Christ, he re-unites with Mary. Two parades with the two statues leave after Mass from two different churches. For this special occasion the people who participate wear their colourful local costume.

[mk_gallery title=”Easter – S’Incontru Oliena” images=”351,352,353,354,355,356″]

S’Incontru takes place in the town square, the parades cover the last few meters on the herbs sprinkled over the street before they stop facing each other in the middle of the crowd. The bearers of the images kneel three times and the statues, still facing eachother move up and down three times. Then Mary turns around and both of them leave in the same direction to the church of Santu Lussurgiu, patron saint of Oliena.

All this is accompanied by the deafening noise of sixty-odd shotguns and pistols that are being emptied in the air for at least 20 minutes. The gunmen are standing on balconies and rooftops surrounding the square, and shoot in the air to scare away the evil spirits that might interfere with this important event. Afterwards the bystanders collect some of the herbs to make a small bouquet to bring home.

Pagan Carnivals of Sardinia – Sos Battileddos of Lula

The most cruel carnival celebration on Sardinia preserved from pre-Christian times takes place in Lula , the passion of Dionisus is being embodied.
Dionisus is the Greek halfgod, son of Zeus that was worshipped in Sardinia way before Christ.

The most cruel carnival celebration on Sardinia preserved from pre-Christian times takes place in Lula , the passion of Dionisus is being embodied.

Dionisus is the Greek halfgod, son of Zeus that was worshipped in Sardinia way before Christ.

Pagan elements from a remote past can still be found today in many of the Sardinian carnival celebrations.

Today we set out with some friends to participate in the carnival celebrations in Lula, one of the most authentic carnivals of Sardinia, and we were all positively impressed by the details of the ceremony, and the good and happy mood of the whole thing. Even though there was a bit of a drizzle most of the time, it was a Fantastic day!

An important part of the celebration is called “la vestizione” the dressing, where it all begins. The faces are blackened with burned cork, including those of many bystanders. Goatskins and bells are hung around and the lassos and whips are prepared, even hear a pigs stomach belongs to the outfit.

[mk_gallery title=”Following the Battileddos through the streets” images=”459,460,461,462,455,454,453,452,451,450″ style=”style3″]
[mk_blockquote font_family=”none”]Sos Battileddos which in this case means the fools, are the figures participating in the carnival celebration. Literally Sos Battileddos are the ones who take the beating.

All have blackened faces as a sign of mourning. The main protagonist is Su Battileddu, the head of the fools so to say, he is drawn through the village in lassos by two other Battileddos, followed by a group of around 10 young men dressed as mourning women.[/mk_blockquote]

The women are mourning because Su Battileddu is going to be sacrificed, he is dressed up not only with goat horns, but also with a blood-filled pig stomach, hidden under his coat of black goatskin. The pig stomach is attached to a belt of cork where the other Battileddos occasionally prick in order to make their victim bleed.

Every time he goes down on his knees a sip of wine gives him new strength, and off he goes again pulling on his lassos into the crowd of bystanders. The wine comes from a barrel that’s being pulled around by the mourning women on a blue cart, and also the bystanders that have turned into participants get offered a cup of wine.

The mourning women run back and forth screaming, pushing bystanders and occasionally they catch young women and then show their phallic symbol which they keep hidden under their skirt.

The whole celebration is a pagan propitiation rite, bringing a sacrifice to appease the gods for a good year. A fertility ritual for people and agriculture. At the end of the ride Su Battileddu dies, the women lay down besides him and cry ferociously, the music starts again, Su Battileddu is loaded on the blue cart, some more wine is poured from the barrel and people start dancing the traditional ‘ballu tundu’ circle dance. Afterwards there’s a dinner where everybody ca participate against a small contribution.