Sagra Della Spiga Di Gangi: the ancient pagan festival dating back Magna Grecian times and its mythology

Every year on the second Sunday of August the citizens of Gangi observe a rural pagan celebration: a folkloristic festival known as the "Sagra Della Spiga Di Gangi".

The ritual, which lasts several days, is part of the Sicilian "noble and peasant traditions" and it evokes ancient customs from the pagan period and to the celebrations connected to the goddess Demeter, the goddess of the fertile land of Greek mythology.

The show is divided into six parts, starting with "A Vanniata da Festa": "u Vanniaturi" (the auctioneer), or the one who announces the start of the party, sits on a donkey and plays his hand-made drum while wearing a period costume.

"U Corteo du Zitu": figures of the time parade through the streets of the town on horseback, recalling the common custom of when the groom's family visited the bride to ask for her hand in marriage;
“A Zuccatina da Zita”: a comedy that re-enacts the way in which the bride's hand was asked.
“A handful of novi cosi”: typical legumes such as lentils, broad beans, chickpeas, beans, corn and many others are offered to those present at the celebration;
“Demeter's procession”: This is the most glorious and spectacular moment of the celebration, which is the culminating moment of the Sagra della Spiga.

The parade of various animals and people in typical costumes starts with the Procession of Ziti, a moment that evokes a typical ceremony before the wedding of the couple – the protagonists of the story. Immediately after, some folk music is performed along with traditional folk dances.

The next part is the one that represents the life in the fields. The show closes with the Mythological Section, where all the figures related to the cult of Demeter parade in the streets.

Demeter, daughter of Cronus and Rhea (her Latin counterpart is Ceres, also called Mother Earth), is linked to the cult of the ear of corn as a goddess of wheat and agriculture in general. In the Homeric Hymns she is invoked as the "bearer of seasons" and her cult has spread to various regions of Italy since ancient times. According to the Athenian rhetorician Isocrates, the gifts of Demeter to humanity were cereals, which is why the “ceareali” are presented as gifts during the ceremony of the Festa Della Spiga, during the moment of the "Una manciata di novi cosi".

The (still alive) cult of Demeter in the Sicilian lands shows us how the island has been affected in its past by the strong influences of the Greek world.

The procession is opened by the symbol of fertility as Demeter is also considered the Mother Goddess, protector of pregnant women and therefore of the family and of the moment of conception. All women rely on Demeter before giving birth.

The whole festival is a long representation of mythological influence, with other references to divinities such as Artemis, her father Zeus, Apollo, god of the sun, medicine, arts, music and poetry, and many others.

This show cannot be missed during your trip to Gangi!