Snake Festival

The Snake Festival in Cocullo, also known as Festa dei Serpari, is a unique and ancient tradition that takes place in the town of Cocullo in the Abruzzo region of Italy.

The legend of the snake event in the town of Cocullo, Italy, dates back to ancient times. According to the legend, the inhabitants of the ancient city of Cocullo suffered from snakes. In their desperation, the townspeople turned to their patron saint, Santo Domenico, to rid them of the snakes.

In response to their pleas, the saint appeared and ordered that all the snakes in the vicinity be gathered and brought to the central square of the town. The snakes were collected and placed in nests on the head of the saint. Afterward, the saint walked out to the square.

People watched this strange procession with astonishment, but Saint Domenico continued to walk through the town with the snakes on his head until they left him and disappeared into the surrounding environment.

Since then, the residents of Cocullo organize the festival every year in honor of Santo Domenico. It includes a procession in which the snakes, wrapped around the statue of the saint, pass through the town. People believe that the snakes passing over their bodies bring them luck and protection from evil spirits.

Here are a few interesting facts about the event:

  • The festival dates back to the 9th century when Saint Domenico was revered as the patron saint of Cocullo. However, the origin of the event is shrouded in mystery, and there are several theories about the festival’s history.
  • The festival revolves around the veneration of snakes, which are considered symbols of protection and good luck.
  • The snakes used in the festival are non-venomous and captured in the surrounding area a few weeks before the event.
  • The festival is celebrated on May 1st, the feast day of Saint Domenico. On this day, the snakes are paraded through the streets of Cocullo, entwined around the statue of the saint, which is carried on the shoulders of the clergy.
  • The festival was suspended for a period of time in the early 20th century due to concerns regarding the handling of the snakes. However, it was restored in the 1970s and has since become a popular tourist event, attracting visitors from around the world.
  • The Snake Festival in Cocullo was recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity in 2014, confirming its unique cultural significance and role in preserving local traditions.
  • The festival is accompanied by music, food, and other festivities, serving as a time for community unity and celebration of its heritage and culture.

Overall, the Snake Festival in Cocullo is a fascinating and ancient tradition that has survived over the centuries, offering a glimpse into the history and culture of the Abruzzo region in Italy.


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