Thursday, June 23, 2011

It's Fiesta! Viva San Pietro!!!

Just like everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day, everyone is Sicilian during Fiesta. Gloucester's annual bacchanalian revel honoring St. Peter, the patron saint of the local fishing families began last night. It is a combination -- as all proper bacchanalian revels are -- of religious devotion and wild celebration. I'm hard at work on my third novel, Depraved Heart, and one of the scenes is set during Fiesta. My two lovers will have their first romantic moment on board a boat while watching the Sunday Greasy Pole Champions Walk.

There is much to love about Fiesta and lots of people do. I used to attend most of the events but in the past few years I've mostly stuck close to home and kept quiet -- getting older I guess. But that doesn't mean Fiesta doesn't come to me. Last year young Joe who lives next door walked the Pole for the first time and the partying at his house was loud, colorful and delightful.

Of course there is more to Fiesta than the Greasy Pole. There are the Hat Ladies with their wonderful Fiesta Hats (below) and the seine boat races and other athletic competitions. There's the carnival and the Masses, concerts, speeches, dances. You can download the 2011 Schedule here.

This year there is a live web cam of the festivities in the Fort: 


And there are endless YouTube videos:

And, as always, our good buddy Joe at Good Morning Gloucester will be covering everything so check out GMG's Live Fiesta coverage.

Today is also the feast day of St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of the fisherman of Brittany. I wrote about their traditional festivals in The Old Mermaid's Tale. Here is a bit of it in the words of Baptiste, the mariner/musician who grew up there:

It was a great feast day, cher,” he said. “The women would rise early in the morning to bake loaves of sweet bread filled with raisins and cherries and apple brandy. They would use the salt that was blessed on Easter Sunday and they would shape them into three long rolls to represent the Holy Trinity and then they braided them together.
         “The young girls would gather flowers from the fields and weave them into necklaces. All the seamen—the fishermen, the young mousse, the captains and mates of ships, even those old corsairs who had not been to sea in many years, would dress in their best clothing but would wear no shoes. Jean-Baptiste was a humble man and so we would wear no shoes. We carried his statue covered with garlands of flowers on our shoulders as we walked in procession along the quay. And some men, to show their gratitude, would throw themselves into the sea and then walk dripping wet to the church for Mass. The girls would put flowers around our necks as we walked and there would be a great feast. Oh, cher,” he said. “I wish you could have seen how beautiful it was!”

So, Buona Fiesta everyone and Viva San Pietro!


  1. Charming. I'd never heard of the Fiesta San Pietro before.

  2. I didn't know about it before I moved here but it is quite an event!


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