In the three days leading up to Ash Wednesday, the city of Ivrea, Italy engages in the ‘Battle of the Oranges’, leaving the streets and the people who occupied them big, sticky messes.
In New Orleans they celebrate the final days before the Lenten season begins by throwing beads.
Well, in the Italian city of Ivrea they celebrate by throwing stuff too, but there, it’s oranges.
In the three days leading up to Ash Wednesday, the city engages in the ‘Battle of the Oranges’, leaving the streets and the people who occupied them big, sticky messes.
Despite the chaos implied by its aftermath the event itself is actually fairly organized.
The tradition goes back to the 12th or 13th century, when legend has it the townspeople rose up and revolted against their ruler after he tried to have his way a serf’s daughter.
It was the eve before her wedding, and as was his right at the time, he was planning to take her virginity.
Rather than accepting the actions expected of her because of her social class, she raised a sword and decapitated him, and a battle against the tyrant’s supporters ensued.
Over time, the ‘Battle of the Oranges’ developed as an enduring symbol of rebellion against tyranny.
Participants in the mock war dress as either the rulers or the ruled and engage in a symbolic battle for the equality of all.