Folk Traditions

The “Keystroke”

The “Keystroke”

Folk Traditions

There is only one season: summer. So beautiful that revolve around the other. The autumn recalls it, invokes the winter, spring envy and childishly try to spoil it“.

Ennio Flaiano

(Writer,  journalist, humorist, film critic and playwright Italian).

With summer came the deadline more important for the country life: the threshing and harvesting. At one time, the day of the beating, in particular, was a big party because not only sanctioned the end of the year but production was also a great social occasion for all men and for women who attended. At dawn, the breakfasts were offered to the workers, the “disdigiunello” made with vinsanto and cantucci, liqueur wine and biscuits that every home produced. They walked hams, were killing the rabbits, geese and chickens just for this occasion. The period of the wheat harvest varied depending on the area. In plain you begin around the middle of June, in the mountains near the end of the same month and early July, and even later. Generally, for the harvest, farmers, men and women, collaborated (“if you go to exchange of deeds” they said) that is claiming to turn now at one, now at the other family. The workers “stornellando” advancing the field all lined up in front of each of them scattered and often wore a sheath inserted in the fingers cane with bells, whose function was to protect the hands, control the pace of work and scare snakes or vipers . The reapers were divided into groups of teams: 3 or 5 people cut, the latchet (balzo) was preparing and bound (el legarino). Normally, the “balzi” were prepared from younger (the fioli or citti) with the longest straw removed from directly “manna”.  Then the “balzi” were lying on the ground waiting to be used by the “legarino”. In two days were cut and tied about 250 “manne” and gathered every evening in sheaves consisting each of 17 “manne” and in some cases even by 21. The sheaves were left on the field waiting to be transported to the threshing threshing. With the arrangement of the cross on top of the sheaf ended the first phase of this long work. At this point came the “machina da bate”, the thresher. The clean grain was placed in bags (balle) weighing 4 mines that of 1 quintal. For each bale filled the factor, or otherwise instructed by the master, drew a notch on the rod, the housewives, in turn, kept the bill by drawing crosses on the wall. With the beating you could say ended this long process that required 15 to 20 days. Shortly after the farmer began plowing soil to prepare for planting. This happened in the month of August, because the scorching sun, drying weeds (malerbe), helped to clean up the field. The sowing was done at the end of October-November, after the harvest, and it was done by hand (in spaio or volata) and was immediately preceded by the passage of a machine called a harrow.

Excerpt from “Customs and Traditions“, a book kindly granted by the Institution Cultural Educational Castiglionese.

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