• 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

The historic houses of Bergamo

Gardens, art, culture and beauty: the historic homes of the noble families of Bergamo are well worth a visit.
  • Art & Culture
The historic houses of Bergamo

Milan, a fun with the children

Ancient castles, amusement parks and interactive museums. Discover what Lombardy offers for children. First stop, Milan.
  • Art & Culture
Milan, a fun with the children

Milan Design

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

Spring in Varese

Varese: walks, picnics, secret beaches. In the spring, spend a day outdoors in the land of the lakes.
  • Art & Culture
Plenty of culture and fresh air at the Villa Della Porta Bozzolo

Alessandro Manzoni Itinerary

Lombardy blends nature and culture in an itinerary that will take you to the locations of his famous novel The Betrothed
  • Art & Culture
Alessandro Manzoni Itinerary

Urban sculptures and works of art: Lombardy's open-air museum

Lesser known statues, monuments, and works of art, concealed within the streets and piazzas of Lombardy's cities: a prestigious artistic heritage is waiting to be discovered 
  • Art & Culture
Opere e sculture urbane: il museo a cielo aperto della Lombardia

Open museums in Lombardy: an ode to female talent 

Lombardy’s museums are once again welcoming the public, art lovers, and other visitors with a wealth of exhibitions dedicated to women: artists, works of art, and mythological figures who have inspired exhibitions and shows
  • Art & Culture
Open museums in Lombardy: an ode to female talent 

THE ISLAND OF THE MONASTERIES

  • Art & Culture
THE ISLAND OF THE MONASTERIES

The sound of Stradivari

Live performances with the instruments of the collections of the Violin’s Museum.
  • Art & Culture
Clarissa Bevilacqua

Treasure Hunt in the Monza Area of Brianza

Splendid villas, ancient basilicas, noble palazzos. The Monza area of Brianza is full of treasures to discover
  • Art & Culture
Oratorio di San Vittore

Castles Pavia

Towers, walls, ditches .. a journey between fortresses and sumptuous historic houses
  • Art & Culture
Castles Pavia, landmarks in Lombardy

Lombardy in Paintings by Great Italian Artists

The paintings that most beautifully capture Lombardy's scenery, an immersion in the region's landscapes and cityscapes
  • Art & Culture
La Lombardia nei quadri dei grandi pittori italiani

6 Scenic views in Lombardy

6 ideas to observe Lombardy from another point of view.
  • Art & Culture
A step away from heaven

Museum Varese

Mummies, archaeological finds, design, ancient and contemporary art: museums to suit all tastes!
  • Art & Culture
Museum Varese, what to see?

Seven castles in Lombardy

From Lake Garda to Valtellina by way of Milan. Among crenellated walls, towers and porticoed loggias
  • Art & Culture
Castello Sforzesco a Milano

The life in a farm

Come and discover the charm of an ancient farm!
  • Art & Culture
The life in a farm

Arlecchino and Brighella

Famous masks of the Italian Carnival tradition
  • Art & Culture
Arlecchino_11403_HR©Ciminaghi-PiccoloTeatroMilano

Theaters Brescia

Brescia will surprise you with the vitality of its theaters, where are staged prose, ballets and concerts
  • Art & Culture
Theaters Brescia, culture in Lombardy

A treasure hunt in Lombardy

Ten masterpieces for an outing in Lombardy away from the usual routes. Choose with us where to start your Treasure Hunt!
  • Art & Culture
A treasure hunt in Lombardy

The Violin’s Museum

on Google Arts & Culture!
  • Art & Culture
The Violin’s Museum