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Carnival in Rome: i moccoli - the candles

moccoloHow did we use to celebrate Carnival in the city of Rome? In a crazy funny way! 

It was a day dedicated to parties, theater shows, treat, the day in which  people forgot the rigid stratification of the society. Everybody was at the same level, rich and poor with one common goal: the one of having fun. 
 

 

We still love having fun during the Carnival days, but in the past they used to celebrate it in a special way...

Since 1466, in the narrow alleys of Rome, specially in via del Corso (back then called Via Lata) people used to wait for the sunshine of the last Tuesday of Carnival and as soon as the sun was completely down, just after the prayer (do not forget we are in the city of the Pope!) the show could start: everybody took a candle in the hand (the so called “moccolo”) and the game was try to blow and light off the one of anybody else! Beware and never never make your “moccolo” get off because the other would have fun of you. 

All the Romans used to participate to this event: aristocratic ladies, children, men, housewife, priests and nouns…and for hours and hours Rome was light up by this candles. 

The ones that got tired soon could try to escape in the little alleys or they tried to have a little rest in the squares. 

The Pope was the less happy one: people got drunk and fell asleep for the Holy hash Wednesday so he tried to find rules and laws to end the game on time. 

This kind of game went on until the unification of Italy (1861)  and at the end of 1800 nobody  was celebrating the last day of carnival in this funny way anymore. It’s a pity! 

 

 

 

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