Sant'Orso's fair in Valle d'Aosta

Jan 30, 2022 489

BY: Giuliana Poli

Every winter in the Valleys of Valle d'Aosta, cradle of legends and traditions, on January 30 and 31, nearthe "Candelora" celebrated on February 2, the feast of the candles symbol of the beginning of the rebirth of nature, the mountains come to life.

People go down to Valle in Aosta to celebrate at the Collegiate Church of the city, Saints Pietro and Ors,o a thousand-year ritual in the sacred place and archaic center of the city, from which everything has come to life. All the population of the high mountains come down to the valley with their products, mainly cheeses, but above all with the best handicrafts: objects in wood, stone and iron.

A true celebration of love and friendship where all the families of the city welcome the people of the mountains who came down with carts pulled by oxen to their homes, make the Veillà (the wake) together and entertain each other in the streets and cellars of the houses with traditional dances, great meals and lots of alcohol to defeat the intense cold of the Alps, the highest mountain range in Europe.

The grolla of friendship, a particular cup typical of the area, made of wood, with a short stem and closed by a lid, is the symbol of closeness, solidarity, mutual help, exchange of useful objects for the family and of love among the mountain people. The grolla that contains hot wine is sipped and offered to the neighbor, until it is consumed by all the friends who are sitting in a circle. Currently the festival is a big fair, with many stalls, where still, as per tradition, the inhabitants of the valley bring their handicrafts.

This is how the Mayor of Aosta, Gianni Nuti, describes the special atmosphere: "During the days of the Fair in the millenary streets of Aosta a special atmosphere is experienced, capable of bewitching the visitors, which is also expressed through the genuineness of the Valle d'Aosta culture, which can be breathed among the artisans' stalls, in the taste of the local food and wine productions and in the warmth of the "Veillà", made of values such as welcome and willingness to share with others. The values embodied by the people of Valle d'Aosta - among others, industriousness, genuineness, respect for others, the bond with their land - are reflected in an event that collects and amplifies them. Visitors, regardless of age and origin, immediately feel part of what is happening around them, welcomed with simplicity and warmth in the "heart" of Aosta to discover the most authentic expression of the agro-pastoral culture of the Alpine region".

In the church of Sant'Orso, the magical place par excellence of the city, on the day of the feast there is a solemn mass, where the bread is blessed, which is then offered to the population, a very intense and moving ritual. The interior of the church with the diversity of its architectural structures and decorations of the interior is very beautiful and interesting. It holds many treasures, but above all the "magic square" to reiterate that it is the initial magic part of the millenary history of the city of Aosta.

The inscription that encloses the square is the SATOR. Unlike the other rare examples that are square, the one in Aosta is in the shape of a circle and dates back to the 12th century. In this sacred enclosure God and man meet, since it is the circle of good and of the victory of order over chaos.


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