When natural rhythms, seasonal changes, religious and pagan celebrations from the calendar are respected, it is still possible to recollect and recreate ancient habits and traditions associated to the year's cycle.
The new coming year was traditionally welcome by throwing old and broken objects out of the window, almost to symbolize the chase of evil spirits and the passage from death to life, from darkness to daylight.
There used to be a tradition in San Benedetto del Tronto for fiancés: on the Twelfth Night, the engaged couple used to throw on the red-hot fireplace leaves of olive-tree that had been collected for them by a young lad on the previous days. While throwing the leaves one by one, after smoothing them with their spit, the couple used to say "Easter, Easter, Epiphany, you come three times a year, tell me the truth I deal! Blow if he/she loves me, burn if he/she doesn't want me".
Carnival, accompanied by sweets, songs and dances left way to Lent, whose climax was the sorrowful proceeding of the Dead Christ.
On Palm Sunday people used to decorate the mat and bow of their fishing-boats with blessed olive twigs. Then at Easter eggy ring-shaped cakes, cheese pizzas, sweet spongy cakes, boiled eggs, sweet ravioli, cottage cheese, salami and wine added more joy to the religious rite. Indeed the same kind of food was carried during the traditional picnics at St.Lucy's temple or at St.Francis da Paola's church, the patron saint of fishermen, near Grottammare.
Fireworks on the sea
Easter was also time for accounting the fishing year or, as they say, for "lu rolle".
In the country nearby S.Benedetto del Tronto, instead, on Ascention Day people usually put spells to chase the evil eye: women used to get out of their houses before dawn, reached a crossroad and collected a pinch of soil. The same ritual was repeated at other two crossroads and once back home they put the soil in a little bag which was hanged behind the main door to protect the whole family.
On All Saints not one boat was sent out at sea and not even a single net was thrown for fishing: those who dared would have caught only bones of drowned people and would have risked to encounter Charon's ship.
St.Martin's Feast came at last: people ate chestnuts, drank wine and prepared jokes to mock the poor men whose wife's behaviour had given some good reason for criticism and gossiping. A puppet, properly decorated with horns, was prepared and carried from one door to another and finally burned.
The month of December used to be rich with religious celebrations. Among these, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and its solemn procession and the Night of the arriving Lady, when the arrival of Our Lady's little House from Nazareth to Loreto, in the Marche Region, was recalled in a joyful atmosphere of songs and prayers all around the "fòchere" or fires lighted to salute the Virgin Mary.
Being St.Lucy's Feast the prelude to Christmas, it was remembered with the celebration of a Holy Mass at midnight and a big dinner based on stockfish, broccoli and "frustingo", a regional speciality reminding of the Christmas Pudding.