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
SALTO DEL PASTOR
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.
TIR DE CIDULIS
FRIULI VENEZIA GIULIA
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