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Tocati 2012

by Bernard De Koven on August 6, 2012

With a great deal of help from the organizers, I was able to share with you some of last year’s Tocati International Festival of Street Games – a wonderful opportunity to observe some of the traditional games that are, like the majority of your traditional folk, becoming a more endangered species every year. And now, with equally generous support, I am happy to share with you some of the games from this years Festival. The dates, should you happen to be in Verona at the time (and why wouldn’t you be?), are the 21-23 of September.



Piazzetta Pescheria/Loggia di Fra’ Giocando

SAT 10.30; 12.30; 15.30; 19.00; SUN 10.30; 12.00; 15.30; 18.00

Kispetia is the term used to define a way of wrestling practiced in Northern Greece (in Macedonia and Thrace), which consists on the athletes fighting each other completely covered in olive oil.

The practice of oil wrestling is a tradition spread throughout the Eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea until Central Asia, from Turkey to Uzbekistan and to Iran.

The name kispetia comes from the tight leather pants worn by the athletes, called kispet or kisbet.

The goal of the game is to make the opponent fall on his back by grabbing the back of his leather pants.

Kispetia is practiced in some small towns in Northern Thessaloniki and in the province of Serres. The zone of Serres has a long tradition in tournament organization in the midst of traditional festivals, but actually the most important event for the kispetia wrestlers is the one in which a thousand of athletes meet at the beginning of summer in Kirkpinar, Turkey.

The tournament is held every year since 1362. This tournament is considered the oldest yearly sport competition, and this is one of the reasons why it was declared Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2010.

Edited by the Nigrita Municipality, Greece



Lungadige Riva Battello

FRI 22.00; SAT 13;00; 16.30; 21.30; SUN 11.00; 14.00; 16.30

Hand Ba’ is a ball game practiced by an entire village split in two teams. It is played on the city’s streets and anyone who wants to can participate. Teams are organized according to the area the players are living in. An imaginary line passing from the center of the city divides the territory inhabitants  in two halves, called Uppie (upper) and Donnie (lower), hence defining the team composition.

Hand Ba’ is also played in England, in a similar way to Scotland. The ball is made of leather and it’s a little bigger than a tennis ball. As the whole village takes part in the game, the balls are given as present in public occasions such as marriages, anniversaries and births. Anytime is a good time to involve friends and families in the game.

In Jedburgh, a town of about 4000 inhabitants situated in the Scottish Borders region, youngsters play the game on 2 February during the “Candlemass” holiday (which celebrates the presentation of Jesus at the Temple) while men play it during the Gaelic holiday of “Fasterse’en”, on the first Tuesday after the new moon. During these days, because of the big attendance in the contests, it is not unusual to find bars, restaurants and shops hanging the sign “Closed for Hand Ba’

Edited by the Jedburgh Municipality, Scotland



Teatro Romano

SAT 11.30; 13.30; 16.30; 21.00; SUN 10.00; 13.30; 17.30

Salto del Pastor is a discipline widespread in the Canary Islands, practiced using a pole to move along the steep Scottish slopes of the volcanic territories.

This custom has been for years a way for the the island’s shepherds to walk more easily.

There are many kinds of jumps, the most common being sinking the pole lower in the valley, letting themselves slide along the pole itself, overcoming the difference in height.

Various writings since 1500 are proof of how common this jumping custom was among the aborigines of the Canaries, the Guanches, a population of Berber origins, who brought from their native territories those traditions linked with the breeding of goats and sheeps.

The Guanches population gradually became extinct after the Spanish domination, which began towards the end of 1400.
To date of this population, other than the salto del pastor tradition, the only things left are some traces of the language spread in the Gomera region, called “el silbo” (the whisper).

The Jurria Tenerra community, which takes part in the festival, works in the La Palma island, the most western of the Canary Islands.

On this Island, there’s the “Caldera”, the tallest dead volcanic crater of the area.

Throughout the whole archipelago there are about 300 jumpers, about sixty of them in La Palma.

Edited by Jurria Tenerra, island of La Palma, Minorca, Spain.




Lungadige San Giorgio

SAT/SUN 10.00-12.30; 15.00-18.30

Tir des cidulis (also known as cidula, cidules, cidulos or pirulas according to the spoken Friulian) is an antique tradition from Carnia. The throwing of las cidulas usually occurs during the Winter solstice, similar to other fire rituals in the Alpine Arc; hence many think the game has Celtic and pagan origins.

According to a study, the native youngsters (the cidulârs before the abolition of the conscription were the conscripts) throw the burning wooden wheels while singing an auspicious or humorous nursery rhyme (raganizza). The Giovins Cjanterins di Cleules are roughly 20 young boys from 16 up to 30 years old.

They come from the town of Cleulis in the extreme north of Carnia. They decided to bring this tradition back and give it new life.

Edited by Giovinis Cjanterins di Cleules – Paluzza (UD)




Giardini Cesare Lombroso

SAT/SUN 10.00-12.30; 15.00-18.30

Fiolet is a traditional game practiced in the  meadows of Val d’Aosta. The player has to hit the fiolet (a little piece of flat-based rounded wood) with a maciocca (a stick made of ash wood on which a squared wooden piece is grafted) to throw it as far as possible.

On 17 July 1924, the first association ever – some kind sports club- to include fiolet, among several other disciplines, was constituted. The first championship took place in 1953.

As of now, those practicing fiolet are roughly 430 people and their most important meetings are the spring championship, starting around the second week of March and finishing around the beginning of June, and two other competitions: the Baton d’or, on the first of May, and a single contest that takes place in mid-May.

Edited by Associazione Valdostana Fiolet, Brisogne, Aosta

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Tocatì International Festival of Street Games

by Bernard De Koven on August 11, 2011

If you are planning to be in Verona in late September then you should most definitely consider dropping by the Tocatì International Festival of Street Games.

I quote from the Google translation of the announcement on the Ancient Games Association website:

On the occasion of the 9 th edition of Tocatì, International Festival of Street Games organized by the Ancient Games in collaboration with the Culture Department of the City of Verona, Verona will host a conference open to the public titled: “Traditional game, World Heritage humanity .” The event will be held behind closed doors after the work of the congress ITSGA (International Traditional Sports and Games Association), and sociologists, anthropologists and teachers of sports history of the various continents will illustrate the current situation of the game in their traditional territories, in the presence of delegated UNESCO, Pilar Alvarez-Laso, Deputy Director General for Human and Social Sciences. Recall that the traditional game has long been considered part of the UNESCO Intangible Heritage of Humanity (2003, International Paper’s Game). The side events at the Congress will be held in the main squares in the historical center, conveniently imagine with ad hoc solutions that will guarantee the public a unique and engaging. ITSGA is an association founded on 11 July 2009 at Aranda de Duero (Spain) whose object is the representation of a worldwide network of traditional games and sports in order to preserve, study, promote and develop their practice, to improve the social health, intercultural dialogue and the living conditions of mankind in the world. Among the tasks ITSGA also includes the creation of continental organizations focused on traditional sports and games, creating a network of information, support for international meetings and conferences, the creation of a general policy in the field of resource creation and publication of reports, brochures and books, the use of audiovisual means of information and training tools. The association also conducts research oriented towards the creation of databases and tools for the dissemination of educational games and traditional sports and supports any initiative or political youth education that improves the quality of life of the general population (adults, elderly, disabled …) in collaboration with ITSGA Ancient Games Association will be pleased to invite you to Sunday, September 25, 2011 at 15:00 in one of the most prestigious buildings in the historic center of Verona, Palazzo della Ragione (because of Coast 1, Verona – ITALY) for the conference “Traditional game, a world heritage site”, where key concepts will be promoted especially in this historical period, such as social health, intercultural dialogue and the enhancement of the spaces for the game. Traditional game, World Heritage September 25, 2011 15:00 Palazzo della Ragionea Coast Road, Verona – ITALY For further information:

The Festival of Street Games runs from September 23-25.

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August 27, 2013

OK, so I couldn’t figure out the rules. And I really wanted to know more, given the description “Like in many other Hungarian games, there is no winner, but it’s played for fun only and to improve skills, tactics, and team play especially among young people.” No winner? What? I did find this video. Which […]


Preserving a culture with traditional games

August 27, 2013

We have been following the Tocati Festival ever since we first learned of its existence. It is a festival celebrating the traditional of different countries in the region. As such, it provides not only entertainment and spectacle, but an opportunity to renew connections to history and culture. This year the Festival is “focused on the Hungarian traditions and […]


International Festival of Street Games

August 7, 2011

Every year, in September, the citizens of Verona conduct a “festival of traditional street games” called the Tocatì festival. Here, courtesy of the festival organizers, some photos and all-too-brief descriptions of what looks like a major celebration of traditional games. ROPE SKIPPING – Tiàoshéng Taiwan The rope skipping has it roots in the jump rope […]