Tomorrow kicks off the first night of the Giglio Festival with a coronation mass and candlelit procession. Walking down the street last year, for the first time at the event, it was a sight to see the men lifting up a four ton statue and grab a bite of funnel cake, but what is it all for? A good workout and carnival rides?
There is a lot more to it than that. The celebration dates back hundreds of years in the old country, and since 1903 right here on North 8th. Traditionally, the Giglio Festival is a tribute to Bishop Paolino, who around 410 AD sacrificed himself to slavery in exchange for a widow’s son. After his return to his hometown, the citizens honored him with lilies (gigli). Overtime, the observance of his homecoming was celebrated with more and more elaborate and tall floral displays carried on the shoulders of men. This has evolved into what is carried on the streets today – a 65-foot high structure made of metal, papier-mâché and Styrofoam with San Paolino di Nola at the top.
The modern day Brooklyn celebration is also a combination of the feast honoring Our Lady of Mount Carmel, as the the Cooperative Feast. The festival lasts for 12 days, culminating in the night lift on July 14th and feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on July 16th.
More information on the festival can be found here.
Also, our friends at Neighborhood Slice have pulled together a mini episode on the festival.