A mix of the sacred and the profane, unveiling a peculiar relationship between man and nature, these unique marriages between an old oak called ‘Maggio’ and a holly tree called ‘Cima’ – representing the groom and the bride – have been taking place in Basilicata from time immemorial.

These arboreal rituals date back to ancient traditions related to fertility, good harvest and life, and they are celebrated in eight villages located in two of the natural beauty areas of the region.

In the regional park of Gallipoli Cognato e Piccole Dolomiti Lucane, also known as the ‘Maggio Area’, several festivals take place including the ‘Maggio festival’ in Accettura, the festival of ‘U’ Masc’ in Pietrapertosa, the ‘Maggio Olivetese’ festival, celebrated in Oliveto Lucano and the ‘Sagra du’ Masc’ in Castelmezzano.

The Pollino National Park, known as the ‘Area of the Fir’, hosts the festival of ‘L’a’ Pitu e la Rocca’ in Viggianello, the ‘A Pit’ festival in Terranova di Pollino, the ‘La ‘Ndenna e la Cunocchia’ festival in Castelsaraceno and ‘L’a’ Pitu e la Rocca’ in Rotonda.

Two trees, normally the trunk of a Turkey oak and the top of a holly tree taken from the lush woods that grow within the two parks, are cut and pruned; then, a group of oxen, spurred on by people’s shouting, songs and hymns, carries them up to the village. Here, they are joined together to symbolise a wedding, promising each other “eternal love” surrounded by a lively but solemn atmosphere.

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