Our traditions at Porto-Vecchio
Mardi Gras and LE LANCER DU COQ
A very old tradition, typical of Portovecchi...
This custom, intended as a way of sharing and generosity, offered the teacher one last 'fat' meal before entering the Lenten period. Pupils would arrive in the school playground with a rooster wrapped in ribbons and throw it at their teacher. The teacher would then chase the children, pretending to catch them in order to keep them in class. This moment, always very popular with the pupils, represented a day off before the February holidays.
Rooster throwing is still practised today!
Still in use today
La Sittimana Santa in Porto-Vecchio
A Sacred Tradition at the Heart of the City
Before the Palm Sunday or Olive Day, arrives, the whole population is invited to take part in a beautiful custom: the plaiting of boughs to create " Crucetti "and stiddi "or even campanili "This meticulous preparation heralds the imminent arrival of Sittimana Santa. This meticulous preparation heralds the imminent arrival of the Sittimana Santa, a holy week full of devotion and religious ceremonies.
The Sittimana Santa opens on three days: Holy Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. As the celebrations approach, the bells fall silent, replaced by the characteristic sounds of wooden rattles. These special melodies call the faithful to gather for the sacred ceremonies.
As evening falls, the citadel lights up with thousands of candles carefully lit on the windowsills, creating a trail of light along the route of the procession. The town is transformed into a magical spectacle, where faith and tradition blend harmoniously.
On Good Friday, the Purtivichjacci gather, fervently following the Santa Cruci brotherhood, which opens the Grand Procession. The streets fill with a solemn atmosphere, where every step resonates as a profound tribute. The Good Friday procession is a moment of contemplation, meditation and communion between the souls who journey together in this sacred devotion.
The weekend of Easter is marked by a final celebration: " a Mirendella di U Luni di Pasqua ". It's a chance for families and friends to get together, share moments of conviviality, and strengthen the ties that bind them. At the heart of this gathering is the 'canestra', a symbol of generosity and sharing, filled with delicacies and sweets typical of the region.
In Porto-Vecchio, as everywhere else in Corsica, the Sittimana Santa is an essential pillar of tradition and devotion. From the days of preparation to the grandiose Good Friday procession and the magical candlelit evenings, Holy Week is a unique experience where faith and community merge in perfect harmony.
Faith and tradition in perfect harmony
San Ghjuvanni: a blend of tradition, the sacred and the festive
Porto-Vecchio patron saint's day
Another highlight is Portivechju, where every year an extraordinary traditional festival takes place, enchanting all those who take part. San Ghjuvanni or San Ghjuvan'Battistu, is much more than just a celebration; it's a journey through time, a dazzling fusion of the sacred and the festive that brings all the locals together.
As 23 June approaches, every home is abuzz with excitement. The town lights up with a thousand fires, the torches preparing to come to life in the hands of the faithful. Careful preparations stretch through the narrow streets, where the precious bags of salt and the ears of wheat, powerful symbols of this ceremony, are made.
As night falls, the crowd gathers, filling the air with laughter and murmurs. The torchlit procession then takes shape, like a river of lights surging through the darkness.
Each person receives a bag of salt and an ear of wheat, emblems of purity and abundance, while the atmosphere is filled with a sacred aura. The participants devoutly make their way towards the majestic fire. u capanicciu "This is where the fragrant herbs crackle gracefully. Bewitchingly fragrant muredda and bright asphodel bulbs feed the flames, giving the night an enchanting atmosphere.
At last, the long-awaited moment approaches: it's time to cross the fire, wheat and bag of salt in hand, heartfelt prayers raised to the starry sky. Each leap is a rebirth, a purification, a protection against the trials to come.
But San Ghjuvanni is not just about individual rituals; it is also a celebration of union and solidarity. Girls and boys hold hands, soaring together above the flames, symbolising the alliance of cumpari è cumari. Wreaths of immortelle, myrtle and yarrow adorn their hair or hands, testifying to the harmony between man and nature.
This festival is a living reflection of the soul of Portivechju, where age-old traditions blend harmoniously with the rhythm of the modern world. On 24 June, after a solemn, fervent mass, the locals enjoy an evening of festivities.
On the 24th, as well as mass, people could go swimming for the first time, and the day was punctuated by games and social events (café boys' races, sack races, etc.).
And so it is that San Ghjuvanni endures, year after year, passing on the precious heritage of Corsica from generation to generation, uniting hearts in a unique communion between the sacred and the secular, the traditional and the contemporary.
If you're looking to immerse yourself in the very soul of Corsica, to enjoy an experience where time fades away to make way for the magic of tradition, then look no further. Join us at the next San Ghjuvanni celebration in Portivechju. An experience you'll never forget. Welcome to the living history of San Ghjuvanni, where the past comes alive to offer you a radiant future.
a key date
An allegory of July
In Portivechju, 31 July is a much-anticipated date. It is the blessed day of " u Luddareddu ", a traditional festival that sows joy and magic in the hearts of every resident.
This day was marked by the presence of a strange character called the "paganacciu". He was dressed in rags and made of straw, and was dragged on a cart through the town several days before the festival, to collect everything that would be used for the bonfire.
The "paganacciu" symbolised the extreme heat and hard work that the people of Portivechju had to endure in July. Indeed, some of them had to stay on the plains despite the heatwave, as this month was crucial for removing cork, threshing wheat, cutting and harvesting hay, as well as harvesting salt. July was a time of increased hardship, and there was also the very real danger of malaria hanging over the region.
On the night of 31 July, the "Luddareddu" was set alight, a way for the locals to say goodbye to those difficult months marked by the terrible heat. They said goodbye to the "sullioni", caldamoni and calmona, the big heat waves that made life so hard.
The day of "u Luddareddu" was a veritable licentious festival. The strange figure was carried around the town, and the inhabitants sang and cried as the celebration drew to a close. They would sing: « O Luddarè chì ti ni và, o Luddarè comu emu da fà ? », a melody full of nostalgia for the man who had accompanied them during these festive days.
After the Liberation, the meaning of "u Luddareddu" took on a political twist. The paganacciu was exceptionally transformed into Mussolini and hung by his feet. This staging was a powerful symbol to show that fascism, as an evil, had to be eradicated and left behind. Today, despite the passage of time, this tradition lives on, offering a spellbinding spectacle that enchants Portivechju every 31 July. This celebration, steeped in tradition and passion, weaves together the history, culture and warm spirit of the entire community, creating an unforgettable experience for every privileged soul who lets themselves be swept away by this bewitching festival.
Every year, to the rhythm of the songs and the flames dancing in the night sky, "u Luddareddu" unites the hearts of all, paying tribute to the heritage of our ancestors and honouring the courage of the workers who, despite the hardships, have lovingly shaped this town.