Accettura is “the” symbolic town of the “marriages of the trees” that are celebrated in Basilicata. These are ancestral and propitiatory rites, in which a trunk (Maggio) and a tree top (Cima)—the “groom” and “bride”—are joined together and lifted up to the skies in a symbolic union.

The spotlight is on the Maggio Festival in Accettura from Pentecost Sunday, when the future bride and groom begin their journey toward the town square; but the whole event takes place every year from the Octave of Easter to the Sunday of Corpus Christi, and is dedicated to the Patron Saint, San Giuliano.

The selection of the two plants that are “tied” together in matrimony takes place in the first and second Sunday after Easter respectively. The husband, the ‘Maggio’ is a large Turkey oak that originates from Montepiano Woods, felled on Ascension Day. The bride, the ‘Cima’, is a holly plant from the Gallipoli Cognato forest. As in most traditional weddings, before joining together in matrimony, the future “spouses” proceed separately in Largo San Vito, accompanied by their respective entourages: “maggiaioli” and “cimaioli”.

The two processions proceed slowly, to the rhythm of music, songs, and dances, with breaks for refreshments – good wines and typical products. The carrying of the Maggio and the Cima is a moment of extraordinary theatricality, accompanied by cries of encouragement and shows of physical strength.

 

Once they reach the Amphitheatre, in Largo San Vito, the wedding ceremony is complete: the Cima is joined with the Maggio and together they are raised up. Meanwhile, the procession of the Patron Saint, San Giuliano, continues.