RELIGIOUS AND CULTURAL TRADITIONS
The holidays celebrated every year around Ragusa are numerous and are often occasions for cultural and folklore events, as well as food festivals.
They are circumstances actively participated by the community and they join the creed manifestation with opportunities for social meetings; they have plenty of meanings, even political ones. It’s not unusual to find the youth coming from the historical quarters, that compete for the honour of bringing to the parade the Saint’s marble. The politicians compete to display themselves at such events.
The most important holidays (that have usually a positive feedback from both citizens and tourists) are:
San Giorgio Martire (St. George the Martyr). It’s the celebration dedicated to the Patron Saint of Ibla, usually celebrated in several days during the last week of May. It’s probably the most participated celebration thanks to the long parade which starts from the S. Giorgio’s duomo in Ibla, twists and turns through the town with several stops and predetermined rituals (like the “Scinnuta” and the “Abballariata”) and finish late at night with an amazing fireworks display.
San Giovanni Battista(St. John the Baptist). It’s the celebration dedicated to the Patron Saint of Ragusa (upper town) and it’s celebrated during the last week of August. This celebration was the competitor of the San Giorgio’s one because of parochial reasons related to the long-time separated administration of the two parts of the city (and due to the contrast between the interest of the old aristocracy and of the new nester class). It lasts for several days, with numerous parades and fireworks display. Its distinctive character is related to the full restart of activities in the city at the end of summertime. In fact, Ragusa usually become empty during July and August (when a consistent quote of population move to the seaside villages) but at the end of August it is again suddenly repopulated to enjoy the Saint’s celebration, with its live-music gigs and the traditional street market (the so called “bancarelle”).
San Giuseppe (St. Joseph). It’s the celebration for the Patron Saint of Santa Croce Camerina, usually on Sunday closer to the 19th of March. It’s one of the most attractive holidays of the district and often even the expatriated natives feel the need to come back to the town from far away to join the celebration. Apart from the unavoidable peculiar features of celebrations in the district (events, street market, fireworks display), the so called Cene di S. Giuseppe (St. Joseph’s dinner) are its most characteristic traits. The devoted families prepare at theirs, some scenic designs made with a unique kind of bread, very tasty and durable, which is tabulated together with sweets or typical products (Cene). Anyone in the town (and visitors too) are invited to visit the Cene in any moment. At the end of the celebration, the food is distributed to the most poor and needy families within a touching ceremony.
The Processione del Venerdì Santo (Holy Friday Parade). It is the procession to remember the Rise to the Calvary and it’s made the last Friday before Easter. It is a very participated celebration spread almost everywhere, a sincerely religious event with some lightening moments. The Holy Friday parade in Ibla always pass through our building.
The Festa del Gioia (Joy’s feast). It’s the celebration for the Resuscitated Christ on Easter day, in Scicli. The Resuscitated Christ’s marble is carried around the town, jiggling about to signify the zest for the renewed life.
Maria Santissima di Portosalvo (Virgin Mary of the Safe Harbor). It’s the celebration for Virgin Mary as procuress of fishermen in Marina di Ragusa, on Ferragosto (the 15th of August). An unusual procession of varcuzze (the small traditional fishing boats) go along with the vessel carrying the Virgin Mary’s marble. The parade finish with a firework display and a challenge where participants try to catch a prize positioned at the end of an oiled horizontal pole at the bow of a vessel.
Innumerable festivals (mainly related to food) occur during the year, especially in summertime, in the district around Ibla. For more details, we suggest to have a look at the events calendar published by the various councils of the province; their websites will surely provide dates and suggestions. For Ragusa council website, follow this link.