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The magic of Panevin

On 5th January as beloved tradition of the North East of Italy we celebrate the rite of Panevìn which is a word built connecting “pan e vin” (literaly translated bread and wine). With this bonfire the ancient Venetians celebrated the return of the sun, or the lengthening of the days that begins with the winter solstice. From the Middle Ages the ritual was moved on the eve of the Epiphany, to illuminate the journey of the Magi towards the cave of Bethlehem.

The bonfire has a rooted agricultural tradition, in fact it is built by large stacks of branches and vine shoots obtained from the residues of pruning. The fire is blessed by the parish priest and by the direction of the “fuische” (sparks) and smoke, the hopes for the future harvest are drawn:

“Fuische a sera, poenta pien caliera”
“Fuische a matina, ciol su ‘l sac e va a farina”.

Meaning:

Spark in the west, cauldron full of polenta (abundant harvest)Spark in the east, take the sack and go in search of flour (poor harvest)

On the top of the Panevìn is placed a puppet called “vecia” (old woman), which symbolizes the old year that is burned.

The whole community gathered around the fire to sing the lìtanies together, eating “pinza” (Polenta Fruit Cake)  and toasting with the vin brulè (mulled wine).