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Traditions in Canale d'Agordo

There are many traditions that enrich the village and the whole valley culturally. One of these is called ‘pavarùi’, fires lit on the tops of the major mountains and in the surroundings of the village on Epiphany’s eve. It is an old pre-Christian heritage of propitiatory rites for the new year, that with the arrival of Christianity took up the meaning of lightening the road for the Magi.
Another striking tradition is the Zinghenésta, the only woman mask of the old Ladin Carnival. Zinghenésta was a very beautiful girl, who was chosen every year among the prettiest girls of the village to lead the parade of the matiéi (coloured masks), laché, sassìgn (killers) and many other masks on Shrove Tuesday. It was the symbol of spring rebirth as pre-Christian propitiatory rite.

Besides these traditions, there is also the tiro al vof, an Easter tradition on Easter day. It is a coin throwing competition occurring on the main square of Canale. Coloured hard-boiled eggs are placed on the floor and the candidate has to aim at them with a coin and hit them. Formerly eggs were blessed by the parish priest.

The traditional Sagra de San Doàne (village feast) on 24 June has always been a great success. After the solemn Mass, an important fair begins full of coloured stalls. This feast of St John, the patron saint, was once very popular in all Agordino and it opened the summer season.

Rich in colours and sounds is the Desmontegàda, too. It takes place in the centre of Falcade towards the last week of September, on the day celebrating the descent of the cattle from the pastures and it is a very joyful event.

As for gastronomy, among the typical dishes there are: carfógn (crostoli filled with poppy and sometimes chocolate), ‘lasagne da pavàre’ (lasagne with poppy) and ‘paste da fornèl’ (pasta with poppy sauce). The latter are cooked at Christmas night.  

The old patriarchal songs of eastern origin are also extremely interesting. They are carried out by the parish Schola cantorum during the major festivities of the year.

The language

An important factor, is the means by which popular and mountain culture is expressed: the dialect.
The dialect of Canale, like the dialects of the whole Biois valley, even though influenced by Venetian elements (in fact the province of Belluno belonged to the Most Serene Republic of Venice from the 15th century to 1797) and nowadays unfortunately partly italianized, maintains most part of the lexis and the structure of the Dolomite Ladin. This fact has aroused the interest of many glottologists among whom Giovanni Battista Pellegrini, author of numerous essays on the Agordino dialects or scholars such as G.B. Rossi, author of the dictionary on Ladin and Ladin-Venetian dialects of Agordino, published in 2008 in a second edition.

It is interesting to know that in the sixties Edoardo Luciani, John Paul I’ s brother, wrote a pithy collection of local legends in Ladin-Venetian dialect. Later on, in 2001, they were transcribed into Italian by Loris Serafini next to the original text (the booklet is available at the Office Pro Loco in Canale d’Agordo).

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