A New Tradition?

April 28, 2008 / Events
While hardly risking life and limb, your humble editor did reach the front and place himself in the line-of-fire like any self-respecting war-correspondent / photo-journalist. For the third year in a row, medieval and cobblestoned Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere was the scene of una guerra di cuscini
(literally, a pillow war). This event, a child of the age of social networking and youtube if there ever was one, kicked off at exactly six p.m. when the church bells began to ring the hour.

What could be more fun than wonking a friend over the head with a pillow? Wonking 1,500 strangers over the head with a pillow! …mind you however, they are wonking back. This went on for about an hour, with the humored polizia e carabinieri watching from the sidelines in case something got out hand (nothing did), and ended with a spontaneous participant-led clean up of all the feathers and pillow stuffing that covered the square entirely by that point.

So, just a silly contemporary event? Perhaps . . but how’s this for eerie? Plutarch writes of the ancient Roman springtime …festival of the Lupercalia when many of the noble youths run up and down through the city for sport and laughter striking those they meet with shaggy thongs.

While most certainly not inspired by the Lupercalia (which was suspended in about 500 a.d. by the church), yesterday’s event in any case dusts off the phrase “old habits die hard.”


by GB Bernardini

Editor, Italian Notebook

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