The “du’ Masc'” festival of Castelmezzano

Castelmezzano is one of the Basilicata municipalities that celebrates the ancestral tree ritual consisting of a real “marriage” between plants: a trunk and a tree-top.

Every year, on 12th and 13th September, coinciding with the celebrations in honour of Sant’Antonio, a stout Turkey oak trunk, “the bridegroom”, also known as the “Maggio”, is chosen from among the woods of the regional park of Gallipoli Cognato and Piccole Dolomiti Lucane and pruned by local woodsmen, before being dragged by pairs of oxen up to the centre of the town.

At the same time, while improvised dances and banquets take place in the woods, a similar ritual occurs with the top of a holly tree, “the bride” or Cima. Once they reach the square in Castelmezzano, the two meet and are placed on top of each other, then raised up to almost touch the sky, under the sweet and approving ‘gaze’ of Sant’Antonio of Padua and the whole town.

After the mutual “I do”, the Maggio is ready to be scaled in order to win the symbolic prizes.