The pine cone, symbol of the Greek god Dionysus, continue to be a symbol of love, in the Tuscan tradition on the Albis Sunday
The Sunday after Easter – in Albis – is the day when those who had been baptized took off their white garments used for the Easter ceremony and the day when the young gentlemen in love asked the young women to marry them in front of the Church and with their family’s consent.
Today this tradition continues in Pieve di Santa Maria a Lamula in the municipality of Arcidosso, on the Monte Amiata, 35 km from Montalcino and 50 km from Fattoria del Colle in Trequanda. A nice occasion to experience an old tradition with some pleasing wines.
Let’s see. Obviously one must go to the Sanctuary Mariano di Lamula which is found in the chestnut woods a short distance from Arcidosso, on the Sunday at three pm. Around the austere construction, in grey local stones, roof and
decorative arches, there will be stalls selling local sweets and long sticks with a pine cone on the end. If you wish to declare your love you must get one, if on the other hand the story is just beginning then a green stick will be just fine.
The solemn Mass begins at 3,30 pm and forest homage to the Virgin, a wonderful statue form the 15th century. The young couple will go home and prepare for the “love ritual” which will take place the next morning when the young man will give the pine cone or stick to his loved one. The reply will come back within the evening in the shape of a sweet which means “yes”. If the pine cone or stick are returned to the sender then it means “goodbye” and the lover will have been refused.
In olden times the pine cone was held by Dionysus (Bacco for the Romans) during the wild parties with the Menadi. It was the celebration of the wakening of nature and love with bacchanals where dances, libations, and effusions all took place without inhibition.
<<The Bacchaes begin to wave the pine cones for their rites… the excitement was transmitted throughout the woods…>>
writes Euripides in the “Baccanti”.
Dionysus and Bacco are the Greek and Roman representations of the same god of liberation of the senses, of love and of wine. As we have seen the Catholic rite, probably of Medieval origin, which still exists today at Pieve di Lamula is very composed and not at all modern.
However it could be a starting point for a romantic experience – and a wine experience which celebrates Bacco in a creative and pleasant way. The Pieve is in fact closet o the territories where Brunello and Chianti are produced and so it is easy to match great wine tastings to love declarations
Seen for you by Donatella Cinelli Colombini
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