"Calendimaggio" of Assisi
2-3-4-5 May 2018

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The “Calendimaggio” Festival

Lasting three days, for decades the “Calendimaggio” Festival was held from April 29th to May 1st, to maintain the ties with the medieval May Day Celebrations. However, for several years now, it has been decided to celebrate the Festival on varying dates, to avoid the “Calendimaggio” coinciding with other secular celebrations, and it now takes place on the first Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday of May, May 1st excluded.

Divisione Città

LET THE CELEBRATION BEGIN
In the afternoon, before meeting in the Piazza del Comune, the two factions participate in the "Blessing of the Banners", which for the “Parte de Sotto” takes place in the Basilica of Saint Francis while for the “Parte de Sopra” in the Cathedral of Saint Rufinus. These are very brief but heartfelt religious ceremonies, perhaps not attended by many, but still the last intimate moment before the challenge begins; This is why there is an atmosphere of tension and emotion. Moreover, the "Blessing of the Banners" is the only religious moment of a secular celebration.
Then the parties go to the Piazza del Comune for the "Delivery of the Keys".

The Delivery of the Keys

The "Delivery of Keys" is a symbolic act by which the Mayor of the city offers the “Maestro de Campo”, the Master of the Tournament Field, the judicial power for the period of the “Calendimaggio”. It is the first act of an intense dispute that lasts four days.

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Invitation to Challenge

At the end of the procession, the “Invitation to Challenge” is read. This is an opportunity to hit one’s opponent verbally, with irony and sarcasm.

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“Madonna Primavera”

The election of “Madonna Primavera” (or the Queen of Spring) takes place after the processions, following three competitions requiring strength and skill, in which representatives of each party face each other. Including tug-of-war, a travois race, and a crossbow shooting competition, these challenges are the way in which the “Madonna Primavera” is elected. Five maidens are matched, by lot, to the participants of the shooting contest, one maiden per crossbowman: the party that has won at least two of the three competitions may elect one of its girls – the one matched to the crossbowman that has scored the highest – to the role of “Madonna Primavera”.
The election is important because the part that obtains the “Madonna Primavera” has the right to open the Medieval Night the following year.

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Medieval Night

Although we often talk of re-enacting medieval life, this part of the festival is more a way to evoke or, better yet, to live and experience a night in the Middle Ages. Indeed, each party organizes its own leap into the past in their section of the city, and only people belonging to that part of the city can take part, strictly wearing medieval clothing.

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Night Procession

The two parties challenge each other again in the Piazza del Comune through parades, characterized by fires and a melancholic atmosphere tinged with sadness for the end of the dream.

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Day Procession

Also called parades, these are not just costumed processions but rather yet another way to challenge each other. During the day procession, people tell stories, often fantastic but still drawn from medieval narrative models, alternating theatrical and choreographic effects.

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The Singing Competition

After the night procession comes the singing challenge: choirs from each party take turns on the stage, specially-assembled to ensure a better sound diffusion, and perform three pieces each, the first common to both and the last two freely chosen by each choir. In the meantime, the crowd in the square listens in respectful silence.

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The Verdict

At the end of the singing competition, everyone anxiously awaits the verdict from the jurors, gathered at the Town Hall offices in the Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo. Then the “Maestro de Campo” appears:
"People of Ascesi, we, Maestro de Campo, availing ourselves of the full powers conferred to us, heard the opinion of the elected college of judges to whom we have entrusted the task of indicating which of the two parties deserves greater praise for their greeting to the nascent Spring. While expressing our unconditional gratitude to both parties for the high moral ground demonstrated in the challenge, worthy of the noblest traditions of our city, we have decided to award the “Palio de Calendimaggio” to the..."

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