• 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

Theaters Pavia

Opera, prose, dance and theatrical review .... the theater in Pavia and the province is staged
  • Art & Culture
Theaters Pavia, cultural vacations in Lombardy

Unusual Museums Lombardy

Other museums that can be visited
  • Art & Culture
WOW SPAZIO FUMETTO

The leonardo ferryboat in imbersago

  • Art & Culture
The Leonardo Ferryboat in Imbersago

Discovering the treasures of Mantua

  • Art & Culture
Discovering the treasures of Mantua

Pavia Photo Gallery

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

Museums Pavia

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

Events in Lombardy: 5 not to miss

  • Art & Culture
Eventi in Lombardia 8-14 ottobre

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

THE ISLAND OF THE MONASTERIES

  • Art & Culture
THE ISLAND OF THE MONASTERIES

Theaters Mantua

Sumptuous rooms and golden stages are the setting for the theatrical seasons of Mantua
  • Art & Culture
Theaters Mantua, experiences in Lombardy

Theaters Bergamo

The theatrical season of Bergamo accompanies us with a flourishing billboard of shows not to be missed
  • Art & Culture
Theaters Bergamo, hints on visiting

Lago di Iseo: history, nature and…

From the recently rediscovered Roman spa in Predore to the Liberty architecture of Sarnico, via the enchanting town of Lovere and surprising natural phenomena
  • Art & Culture
Lago di Iseo cultura, natura e...

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

Sondrio, the legend of Orlando

Castel Masegra is an imposing building which sits atop a 60m-tall rock, dominating the Sondrio skyline
  • Art & Culture
Sondrio Castello Masegra

Bergamo Alta and its beauties

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

Tempio dell’Incoronata

A visit to the Tempio dell’Incoronata and the Museo del Tesoro
  • Art & Culture
Tempio dell’Incoronata

More than just cows

Everything you need to know about the Baronchelli dairy farm. A trip to Lodi to discover what's behind the milk we drink
  • Art & Culture
More than just cows

Monuments Lodi

In the center of Lodi you can see buildings and monuments that are real architectural and decorative jewels
  • Art & Culture
Monuments Lodi, ideas for visiting

Bergamo Città Bassa

Glimpses of ancient villages along the main communication routes between the upper city and the territory
  • Art & Culture
Bergamo Città Bassa (Lower City)

Castles Brescia

From Sirmione to Breno, from Desenzano to Padernello, a journey through the fortified manors to the discovery of local history
  • Art & Culture
Castles Brescia, discovering Lombardy