Thursday, July 10, 2014

Have You Heard About The Battle Of The Oranges?

No, it isn’t related to the TV series “Orange Is The New Black”. Nor is it related to the Asian Insect (citrus psyllid) destroying the Florida orange juice crop.

It's an epic Italian food fight, called the Battle of the Oranges. Some folks like to call this battle a “Carnival”.

Thousands of people gather each year for the annual 'Battle of the Oranges'. The battle sees large crowds bombarding each other with the oranges, many of the participants are dressed up in period medieval costumes.

No matter what you call it the event takes place in Ivrea, near Turin, in northern Italy, and is based on a legend from the Middle Ages. According to a popular account, the festival's origins lie in the overthrow of a tyrant in the Middle Ages when the daughter of a miller rejected the advances of an evil lord. Crowds bombard each other with oranges to commemorate this medieval popular uprising. 

Instead of the sword and crossbow, however, the weapon of choice is the orange.

People take the celebration very seriously indeed. The battle recalls the uprising in the 12th century of commoners against noblemen, with the oranges representing the oppressors' heads. 

More recently, in the 1930s, local girls started to throw oranges onto carnival parade carriages to make the boys notice them. The boys started to throw items back and over time the duel turned into a real fruit fight between the balconies, carts and the street crowds.

The core celebration is based on a locally famous Battle of the Oranges that involves some thousands of townspeople, divided into nine combat teams, who throw oranges at each other – with considerable violence – during the traditional carnival days: Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. The carnival takes place in February: it ends on the night of Shrove Tuesday with a solemn funeral. Traditionally, at the end of the silent march that closes the carnival the "General" says goodbye to everyone with the classical phrase in dialect "arvedse a giobia a ‘n bot", translated as "we'll see each other on Thursday at one", referring to the Thursday the carnival will start the next year.

One of the citizens is elected Mugnaia. Legend has it that a miller's daughter (la "Mugnaia") called Violetta once refused to accept the "right" of the local duke to spend a night with each newly wed woman and cut his head off. Today the carriages represent the king's fortress and the orange throwers the revolutionaries.

'Battle of the Oranges' gets very messy with several hundred tons of oranges thrown in three days, the clean-up operation is a battle in and of itself.

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Sunburst Packing Co.
180 South “E” Street
Porterville, CA  93257

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