Spring! A time of new life, fullness, and joy! And what better way to celebrate than with a wedding?! And you are cordially invited to The Wedding of the Trees. A special and unique Medieval festival with a wedding which takes place every May near Rome!
Lo Spozalizio degli Alberi!
Participants: Two large oak trees.
Date: May 8, annually.
Place: The town of Vetralla, in northern Lazio.
Occasion: To celebrate Spring’s fertility and promote protection and care of local forests.
Purpose: To revive Vetralla’s sovereignty over the forests, protect the forests, and confirm the ongoing tradition that ensures every resident a cubic meter of firewood annually.
Obviously this wedding, dating from Medieval days, is only symbolic.
It begins by decorating the chosen oaks with veils and garlands. Followed by the official reading and signing of a notary’s document.
A full Medieval festival in every way, complete with costumes, bands, and flags. Horse riders gallop around the trees in the forest clearing, atop Monte Fogliano, most presenting their bouquets of spring flowers to the couple. With many presenting bouquets of the yellow Broom Plant (image below). Which is a most curious tradition.
This festival, dating back to 1432, has its roots in ancient fertility rites. So perhaps the Broom Plant is supposed to symbolize a house full of kids to clean up after. Who knows?
Because the use of Broom Plant branches as sweeping tools also dates back to the 15th century. But still, the custom of including a bundle of it at a wedding seems a bit odd. For while it would certainly be useful to the newlyweds, an old traditional rhyme implies that it could be dangerous as well!
Sweep the house with blossed broom in MayAn Old Sussex rhyme
Sweep the head of the household away!
The idea of wishing the couple a clean house is great! But not to the point of sweeping the husband away! 🙂
In any case, fertility rites and marrying trees? It all seems like a bunch of nonsense to me. But the festival is also held to encourage the protection of forests, and I’m all for that!
Which reminds me of another Tree, even though he doesn’t call himself a tree.
Tree? I am no tree! I am an Ent. Some call me Treebeard.J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers
A treeherder, a Shepherd -or guardian – of the Forest. Somehow, I think Treebeard would like this festival. Someone should invite him! Or who knows, maybe they already have!
But hey, don’t leave yet!
The festival’s not over. Like any good wedding, it’s now time for the nuptial dinner. A free picnic for all!
You didn’t really think they’d have the wedding with no food, now did you? Especially an Italian wedding – which are well-known for their
abundance over abundance of food and wine!
So let’s have a toast for the wedding of the trees!
Not that I’m in favor of fertility rites. But protecting forests? Certainly! And enough firewood for all? Yes please!
Although Italy could certainly use a little more fertility. For they say it’s a dying country. Fewer babies were born here in 2019 than in any other year since World War I. So I’d say a few weddings are in order!
Now I’ll leave you to enjoy the festivities with the following video!
As for me, I’m off to look for Treebeard. Surely he’s got to be around here somewhere…