• Art & Culture

The Legend of the Giubiana

The Giubiana festival is a very popular tradition in Lombardy

By the end of january, several localities in the province of Como fire up large bonfires that are used to burn dummies made out of straw and rags: the Giubiana Dummies.

There are various dummy shapes and multiple ways in which they are burned, yet this practice's origins hail from ancient rituals reenacting a judicial process and an execution with purifying fire. The previous year is symbolically executed for its load of negative events. With its demise, good wishes for the future are propitiated with a new rebirth.

Every comunity has followed its own version of this ritual alongside various tales and traditions. In numerous towns, the Giubiana is pictured as an old, vile witch. This character is linked to the tradition of the risotto with luganega sausage. Legend says that the hungry witch chased children in order to eat them. A mother had an idea in order to save her own son by preparing a large pot of yellow risotto with sausage, hoping that the hag would rather taste a piglet's tender flesh an spare her child's life. She put the pot near the window. Its inviting scent draw the Giubiana's attention, who rushed in to eat it the risotto. She kept eating for the whole evening without realizing that the sunrise was drawing near. Since witches cannot survive sunlight, she bursted in flames as soon as the first ray of light reached her.

The Giubiana in Cantù does not look like an old witch but a beautiful lass who betrayed the city centuries ago. During the decade-long war between Como and Milan (1118-1127), Cantù was allied with the Milanese capital, enduring Como's relentless siege. One evening, a young, heavenly-looking maiden knocked on the city gates seeking asylum. The gates were opened and she was welcomed in. Yet this young woman got hold of the city keys and delivered them to its enemies. Cantù fell to Como's might, but Milan won the war soon after, so locals enacted their vengeance by capturing the traitor and sentencing her to be burned to the stake. Every year, a dummy dressed in elegant garbs is exposed for public shaming and then paraded into Piazza Garibaldi, Cantù's main square. Once there, the sentence is read aloud in front of the crowd and the authorities, then thrown into the flames. If the dummy burns in its entirety, then it will be a good year.

Whether she is beautiful or ugly, the Giubiana has become an occasion to gather up, celebrate and taste some nice risotto, drink mulled wine or watching fireworks in good company. 

On the same topic

Pavia Photo Gallery

An area full of attractions and experiences to experience
  • Art & Culture
Pavia from A to Z, art and culinary traditions

Museums Monza

From the Treasure of the Cathedral to the MEMB, there are many museums where you can discover local history, art and culture
  • Art & Culture
Monza musei

Bergamo Alta and its beauties

A historic center remained completely intact and surrounded entirely by walls
  • Art & Culture
A magic place, preserved throughout centuries

Museum Sondrio

Centuries of local traditions and alpine identity in its museums
  • Art & Culture
Museum Sondrio, what to see?

Museums Lodi

The museum reality of Lodi is heterogeneous. It preserves naturalistic and scientific collections, archaeological and art collections
  • Art & Culture
Museums Lodi, exploring Lombardy

The show is online in Lombardy

The show continues at home, in Lombardy. Discover the plays, films, concerts, videos and podcasts available for free online
  • Art & Culture
The show is online in Lombardy

Milan and Lake Como

Milan, city of a thousand histories. Plus, a trip to Lake Como
  • Art & Culture

Castles Sondrio

In the mountains between castles and strongholds that challenge the peaks of the Valtellina
  • Art & Culture
Castles in Sondrio, a guide to Lombardy

Museums Pavia

Masterpieces of art, treasures and centuries-old traditions in the museums of Pavia and surroundings
  • Art & Culture
Museum Pavia, what to see?

Milan first night at La Scala… and more

  • Art & Culture
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele - Milano

Castles Cremona

Crossroads of trade and area of strong agricultural production, the Cremonese territory has always been guarded by castles
  • Art & Culture
Castles Cremona, tips for visiting

Online i modelli di Stradivari dell’MdV

On Google Arts & Culture!
  • Art & Culture
Online i modelli di Stradivari dell’MdV

Visit the interactive exhibit Leonardo3. The World of Leonardo

Discover the works of Leonardo Da Vinci as you've never seen before
  • Art & Culture
Leonardo3. Il Mondo di Leonardo

Milan Design

Not just Salone: ​​where design lives
  • Art & Culture
Milan, design beyond the Furniture Fair

Monuments Cremona

Cremona: a splendid city of art with a sober elegance and many monuments, to be visited on foot or by bicycle
  • Art & Culture
Monuments Cremona, visiting Lombardy

Vintage Steam Trains in Lombardy

Blue Train and Camuna Tourist Railway
  • Art & Culture
Vintage Steam Trains in Lombardy: Camuna Tourist Railway and “Treno dei sapori”

Brebbia and the pipe factory

In the province of Varese, wet from Lake Maggiore, well protected by a hilly setting hidden from the wind and sudden storms
  • Art & Culture
Saints Peter and Paul Church and the Pipe Museum

Castles and fortifications around Lake Como

Several testimonies of a past rich in history, all to discover
  • Art & Culture
castello rezzonico san siro

Monuments Monza

There are so many beauties to discover in the city that holds treasures not only in its Cathedral.
  • Art & Culture
Monuments in Monza, culture in Lombardy

Santo Stefano Ticino

A village to be discovered near Milan
  • Art & Culture
Santo Stefano Ticino, art and agriculture