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La 'Ndocciata of Agnone

08.12.2012 - 24.12.2012

Agnone (IS), December 8 to 24, 2012 - A tradition tied to ancient beliefs lives on in the Molisan borgo

Agnone, borgo (in Isernia Province) of the mountainous zone of the Region of Molise, once again prepares to set alight its 'Ndocciata, the fiery and evocative Christmas rite native to this terrain for at least 1,000 years. 
The event, officially recognized as Heritage of Italy under “Traditions” by the Italian Ministry of Tourism, captivates not only inhabitants of the region, but tourists from all over the country, every year. 
The 'Ndocciata tradition  makes up part of the ancient pagan celebration of lights, that eventually transformed into Christmas. "'Ndoccia" is Molisan dialect for “large torch,” in this case a torch of about 10 feet in height. In pagan rituals, the torch is a typical element corresponding to the winter solstice, and according to the popular belief of the time, the crackling sound of its flames served to ward off witches. 

As in every year, the big night in Agnone is December 8th, beginning at 6 PM; the event then repeats, albeit on a smaller scale on Christmas Eve. With the first tolls of the Bell of Sant’Antonio, a procession begins to animate the streets with representations of peasant life. Afterwards the ‘ndocce follow, starting with the smallest torches brought out by children, and continuing with the biggest ones - until finally, the enormous and inflamed, fan-shaped torches. The closing ceremony is held in Piazza del Plebiscito, where what is left of all the torches end up in a giant bonfire of “brotherhood.” 
Also making up part of the festivities this year is the official Italian postage stamp commemorating the 'Ndocciata (within the "Italian Folklore" series), to be presented at the Teatro Italo Argentino on December 7th. The Italian State and the Ministry of Economic Development are issuing 3 million of the stamps.

Useful information

The 'Ndoccia will take place in the town center at 6PM on December 8th and 24th, 2012. 

Access to Agnone's Historic Center is permitted until 4 PM the days of the event. 

How to get there

Where: Agnone
Address: Historic Center and Piazza del Plebiscito
Province: Isernia
Region: Molise