The Maggio in Oliveto

Solemnity and joy are the leitmotif of the arboreal rite of Oliveto Lucano, which is celebrated from 10th to 12th August each year, among the sacred and the profane.

The two “spouses”, the Turkey oak (‘maggio’) and the holly tree-top (‘cima’), are chosen from among the most beautiful and lush plants in the forest of Gallipoli Cognato. One is usually cut on the first Sunday of August, while the other is selected and cut on 10th August.

Their first meeting takes place at Piano Torcigliano, down from Monte Croccia, and the future “bride” (the Cima) is led on an eight-kilometre journey by very fit young people who punctuate the tiring journey with dancing, singing and frugal banquets, accompanied by lots of good local wine.

The same ritual is carried out for transporting the Maggio, which used to be carried by pairs of oxen, as still happens in most tree rituals in Basilicata; however nowadays it is transported on tractors.

Meanwhile in “via del Maggio” everything is ready; this is where the tree-top is united with the Turkey oak, symbolising the propitiatory meaning of fecundity and fertility that envelops the rite.

The long-awaited moment of the union takes place under the gaze of san Rocco, the celebration of which coincides with the “marriage”, in an atmosphere of heightened spirituality that confirms that the Saint is venerated equally as much as the patron saint of the town, San Cripriano.