The Feast of the Maio is a religious and folkloric event that takes place in Baiano on 25 and 26 December each year.

Organised in honour of the patron saint, Saint Stephen the Protomartyr, this Christian tradition has ancient origins, probably pagan, and related to spring, from which the term "Maio" (May) is also said to derive, indicating the largest tree, offered as a propitiatory sacrifice and a sign of gratitude from the community to the Saint. The people of Baiano prepare for the event as early as 13 December, the feast day of Saint Lucy, when, in the dark, they gather for the "Mess 'e nott" (night Mass). The cycle of night Masses, celebrated at 5 a.m., followed by processions of song and dance through the main streets of the town, lasts until Christmas.

On the evening of Christmas Eve, the procession of the Infant Jesus starts from the Vesuni district, followed by the celebration of Mass in the Church of Santa Croce (Holy Cross), which includes the blessing of the rifles and woodcutter's tools used the next day. On 25 December, the tallest and straightest tree is chosen in the Arciano Woods, a nearby hillside locality of the town: the trunk is first marked in red with two large "S", the acronym of Saint Stephen, then cut and transported with a cart to the square in front of the Church of Santo Stefano (Saint Stephen). The journey is accompanied by traditional songs and dances, explosions of barrels and shots from old muzzle-loading rifles. After the blessing of the tree, the most delicate moment of the ritual follows: the raising of the Maio, thanks to the ropes stretched from the roof of the Church. Once hoisted, a man climbs it who, by tradition, must always belong to the same family, handing down this custom from generation to generation. Once he has climbed to the top to untie the ropes, the applause of the jubilant crowd and the ringing of the bells celebrate the success of the ritual, a good omen for the coming year. In the afternoon, young people from Baiano collect the bundles around the town, which are piled up at the foot of the Maio for the propitiatory bonfire, "'o fucarone". On 26 December, the feast of Saint Stephen, the great celebrations involving the whole community end with the procession of the statue of the Saint through the main streets of the town.

An event that involves all the people of Baiano in strong and heartfelt participation, the Feast of the Maio is recognised throughout Lower Irpinia as a symbol of community unity and faith.

Comune di riferimento
Piazza Francesco Napolitano, 83022 Baiano AV, Italia
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*currently suspended due to Covid-19

Poligono GEO


Piazza Francesco Napolitano, 83022 Baiano AV, Italia

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