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TRADITIONS OF VENETO: TRADITIONAL FIRES IN WINTER SOLSTICE IN TREVISO PROVINCE - ITALY

 
The origins of panevin, the traditional bonfires in winter solstice, are very old certainly in Veneto - Italy; it, born as rite concerning Fire and Earth, was influenced by the Christian faith afterwards and thus it become a tool to light up the way of Three Wise Men who were got lost.
 
panevin treviso bonfires northeast italy

The panevin celebrated day of winter solstice by fire at first, this event fell on the 25th of December according to Julian calendar and then it coincided later on the day of the birth of Jesus and it was put off after twelve days, at the Epiphany Eve after some centuries.

 

This traditional bonfire in winter solstice is made by a heap of dry branches, brushwood, firewood and everything which is no more necessary and destined to be burnt; it is eight or ten metres high and it has a circular base with a diameter of three or four metres.

 

A puppet, being similar to an old lady, is often placed on the top of panevin; this female figure is called “vecia” (“old lady”) and she is guilty of all mishaps and calamities happened in just past year and thus she is burnt.

 
On the left: Panevin in Arcade, Veneto - Italy, one of the most important traditional bonfires in Treviso province.
 
The making of panevin was done by a family or by few families once upon a time. It is often built by clubs today: the panevin, made in Arcade and arrived at the 41th edition in 2008, is built by Associazione Nazionale Alpini and it is the most renowned in the province of Treviso.

This traditional bonfire in winter solstice is still an opportunity to stay together: children, adults and elderly persons to eat the pinza (a local cake of this period) and to drink vin brulè (mulled wine).

 
Bonfires’ll be lighted generally in province of Treviso in the evening of January 5th, Epiphany Eve; but some bonfires’ll be lighted also in two next days.
There are some exceptions: traditional bonfire in winter solstice of Nervesa della Battaglia‘ll be burned on the December 3rd, because St. Nicholas is celebrated in that day according to a local tradition, but the bonfires are always kindled in the municipal territory of Nervesa della Battaglia on January 17th at Santa Croce del Montello (St. Anthony’s day) and on January 19th, 2008 at Sovilla.
 

This traditional bonfires in winter solstice is lighted at Colfrancui - Veneto, in municipal territory of Oderzo, on December 24th; the one extremity of yule log (called soc. Nadaìn) was burnt only in that day and then it’ll be snuffed out and it’ll be kindled the panevin day.

The persons, being near bonfire, look at the smoke and the sparks carried by wind and they deduce some auspices from this event for the year just begun: if the smoke and the sparks go south or west, blown by a moist wind, the crop’ll be good. If the smoke and the sparks of panevin go north or east, the harvest’ll be poor.

The tradition to burn panevin is scattered in province of Treviso, Venice, Vicenza, Belluno (it is called "pavaroi" o "pavarui") and in Friuli Venezia Giulia region (it is called “pignarûi" o "palavins” here).

It is possible to deduce similar auspices from smoke and sparks released by bonfires which are kindled in Sicily, Switzerland, Germany and France.

bonfires veneto winter solstice
 
A like event, coinciding with summer solstice, is called St. John’s bonfires which are lighted along the banks of rivers in Norway and Finland; the smoke and the sparks, carried by wind, will give information about progress of the year just begun.
 
 
 

DATES OF TRADITIONAL BONFIRES IN WINTER SOLSTICE IN VENETO - ITALY

The most important bonfires in Treviso province will be lighted about at 8:00 p.m. on January 5, 2008 in these countries: Cison di Valmarino, Farra di Soligo, Follina, Miane, Moriago della Battaglia, Pieve di Soligo, Refrontolo, Revine Lago, San Pietro di Feletto, Sernaglia della Battaglia, Tarzo, Vidor, Colfosco, Collalto di Susegana.