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Home » The Torch-Lighting Ceremony in Oratino

Every year in Oratino, a village bearing the prestigious title of “One of the Most Beautiful Villages in Italy”, one of the most ancient and well-known traditions of the Molise region is celebrated: the Faglia of Oratino. The so-called faglia is a lighting ritual of a 13-meter-long torch that indicates the spiritual path of the entire population.


The torch is built with reeds by the young people of the village. About fifty volunteers transport the torch, which weighs 25 to 30 quintals, along a journey that starts from the entrance of the village and arrives at the church of Santa Maria Assunta. The torch is then lit in a show that attracts hundreds of tourists to the heart of the historic center of this small town.

During the procession, the leader has the task of keeping the pace and guiding the procession while thanking the townspeople who provided the raw materials by chanting a sort of “hip, hip, hooray”.

The procession

The torch ritual references the European fire cults and, above all, the fires of the winter solstice, which, like those of the summer solstice, are connected to fertility and marriage, as well as to death. According to ancient religions, the sun would always have to reacquire its strength on the longest night of the year in order to combat the winter solstice, its counterpart. The meaning behind the fire was twofold: on the one hand, it was an attempt to mimic and reproduce the power of the sun, and on the other hand, to purify. Fire, a symbol of immortality, would thus have removed sinful tensions from the human soul, eliminating, with a “magical” act, the “physical” evil of the community.

The Faglia lit up

The Faglia is a precious resource for both the Molisan pastor and peasant. Rudimental lighthouse, a guide in the night, this artistic torch lighted the way and led them to shelter on stormy, frigid nights in ancient times.


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To learn more about other fire rituals in Italy, read Christmas Traditions in Agnone and  The Faugni.