Historic rituals and identitary symbols of traditional weddings

Matrimonio selar

Historic rituals and identitary symbols of traditional weddings

Held at the beginning of August in the lower Sulcis area is Sa Coia Maurreddina followed by the Antico Sposalizio Selargino in southern Campidano at the beginning of September, bringing us an authentic reminder of traditional weddings in southern Sardinia
A tribute to all that time has forged and what memory has conserved

A polyphony of songs, a harmony of sounds and colours, a union of ancestral rituals and symbolic gestures that embody the spirit and knowledge of entire communities, stories of emotions and promises of love, to be preserved and passed on. Traditional Sardinian weddings are an expression of faith and authenticity, marked by ceremonies whose roots are lost in the mists of time. With the advent of Christianity, pagan traditions did not disappear but were reworked into religious practices. The two key elements of fire and water are the bases of ancestral forms of divination. There are also two wedding traditions that characterise the summer: from the 1st to 5th August, Sa Coia Maurreddina is a re-enactment of the historical weddings of Santadi and of the rituals of the agropastoral community in the lower Sulcis. A month later, from the 4th to 9th September comes the 58th edition of the historic wedding traditions of Selargius, the Sa Coja Antiga Cerexina, the most historic, faithful and spectacular presentation of historical weddings of the Campidano plain and one of the most famous celebrated events marking the Sardinia identity, a triumph of traditional culture with a lavish ceremony and a folklore festival that welcomes the customs and traditions of all Sardinian communities to Selargius.

Matrimonio selargino, vestizione della sposa
An ethnographic journey that restores life to an ancient agricultural-pastoral community

A land renowned for its vineyards and pure water springs, Santadi rediscovers its origins throughout the Sa Festa Manna event on the first Sunday of August. The preparations take weeks as skilled hands create custom garments - brocade and silk for the bride, black orbace and very fine linen for the groom - accompanied by a selection of the strongest oxen, the decoration of the traccas (carts) and the choice of music, all in accordance with the tradition of Sa Coia Maurreddina (‘Mauritano’ wedding traditions). The name dates back to the time of the Vandals (5th-6th century), with maurreddinu being the diminutive of maurru (Moor), a people that not only looted the coastal towns, but some communities of Moors even settled in the lower Sulcis. Surround those making their vows are the parents, witnesses, relatives, guests, folk groups from various parts of the island and the knights who contribute to the sense of a timeless ritual that resurfaced in the 1970s.

Benedizione della sposa
Pagan rites combined with Christian celebrations

On the greatly-anticipated day, the traccas are adorned with tapestries, vine shoots, corn husks and flowers, pulled by oxen along a bed of red petals and twigs (Sa Ramadura) to the bride and groom’s house. Their new life together begins when the newlyweds climb up on the tracca that will accompany them to the altar. The town gathers around the couple, each family on a cart. The wedding procession, accompanied by knights, moves slowly accompanied by the notes of the launeddas players, until the piazza where the function takes place. Greatly auspicious ancient and evocative rituals embellish the ceremony, handed down from generation to generation, to wish health and happiness to the newlyweds. These include a blessing of the newlyweds by their parents using water, and that of sa 'razia (giving grace), being the breaking of a dish full of rice, wheat, salt, coins and rose petals as symbols of abundance, wisdom, wealth and love that are then scattered over the head of the newlyweds. After the plate is broken, the festivities continue late into the night.

Benedizione dello sposo
Dolce tipico  - matrimonio selargino
Matrimonio selargino - Selargius
A story of love and community that extends beyond time

Antico Sposalizio is the most famous event in Selargius. Its roots date back to the 18th and 19th centuries, coming to us from written and oral sources. This ancient custom was revived in the 1960s, as an evocation of the past and to protect tradition. Today, people from all over the world come to say their vows as part of this ancient ritual, booking much in advance. The wedding celebrations begin on Thursday or Friday, with sa cantada a is piccioccas, in which young people in traditional costumes accompany the groom on a greatly adorned cart to serenade the bride from the window of her home. The women in the family look out from the windows as the men sing polyphonic chants of courtship. On Saturday comes the bride’s dowry chest, transported on ox carts to the house where the future husband and wife will live, preceded by musicians and people in traditional costume. Sunday begins with the dressing of the newlyweds in a large Campidanese house, from which the spouses, witnesses, relatives, guests, knights and folk groups from all over Sardinia depart accompanied by musicians playing launeddas and tumbarinos. The procession winds through the historic streets of the city, until reaching the parish of the Santissima Vergine Assunta.

matrimonio selargino
Sa Cadena, a symbol of perpetual bond

The long celebration is held in Sardinian Campidanese. After exchanging rings, the hands of the spouses are united by sa cadena, a wedding chain representing much more than a simple bond but a symbol of faith and everlasting union. It consists of 66 silver rings, elements that express the character of an entire community and the uninterrupted union between tradition and modernity. Sa cadena exists harmoniously alongside a heritage of beauty: brocade dresses, hand-embroidered lace veils and, to compete the enchantment, the splendour of is prendas, ancient gold and jewel designs. At the end of the religious service, the bride and groom exit to great cheer accompanied by the release of a pair of doves. The celebration continues in the nearby church of San Giuliano, where the bride and groom write a promise of love that will be kept in the small Romanesque sanctuary and unveiled only after the 25th year of marriage (read by their firstborn). To conclude is su cumbidu, the wedding banquet preceded by the classic rituals for auspiciousness and prosperity, the blessing of water as a sign of purification, and sa 'razia. It is now time to celebrate, unleashing an echo of an island that is recounted through an evening of folk groups performing shows that are not to be missed. The boundary between past and present is transformed into an ethnographic journey that brings to life an era comprised of working the fields, a tribute to all that time has created, to what memory has preserved. A story of love and community extending beyond time.

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