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Quarantore: Traditional egg rolling and more

The ancient art of rolling decorated eggs down an incline which was revitalised in Barga during 2012, has become a traditional annual event in Barga Giardino as part of the festivities to celebrate the Quarantore di Barga.

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Going somewhat against the trend but judging by the amount of children visibly enjoying themselves this afternoon, it would appear that the time for digital games is over. The backlash has begun? Children sitting huddled over their computers or cell phones not talking with each other in the real word but instead communicating in the digital universe has come to an end ?

Maybe not, but today definitely some thing had changed as the “old school games” like hop scotch, barrrow races, egg and spoon and even sack races were all the rage as the annual Quarantore took place in Barga.

The ancient art of rolling decorated eggs down an incline which was revitalised in Barga during 2012 has become a traditional annual event in Barga Giardino as part of the festivities to celebrate the Quarantore di Barga.

Now they have added some newer games – Flip the bottle and added a new attraction – 300 balloons let loose from the top of the bridge which floated down on the assembled and frenzied crowd of youngsters, all eager to see if there was a prize inside one of the balloons.

After all the balloons were popped in what seemed like ten seconds of loud chaos and dust – not one but a dozen lucky participants claimed their winning prize.


The pre-Christian Saxons had a spring goddess Eostre, whose feast was held on the Vernal Equinox, around 21 March. Her animal was the spring hare, and the rebirth of the land in spring was symbolised by the egg. Pope Gregory the Great ordered his missionaries to use old religious sites and festivals and absorb them into Christian rituals where possible. The Christian celebration of the Resurrection of Christ was ideally suited to be merged with the Pagan feast of Eostre and many of the traditions were adopted into the Christian festivities.  Children traditionally rolled eggs down hillsides at Easter and it is thought that this may have become symbolic of the rolling away of the rock from Jesus Christ’s tomb before his resurrection.



The event which now included a new game – the BOTTLE FLIP was organised by the Comune of Barga , the association “per B.A.R.G.A.”, the Association “la Befana” and the Pro Loco.

Who better to ask about the tradition behind the Quarantore than Graziella Cosimini in Barga Vecchia?

You can hear her interview below as she explains how it was not just a religious ceremony but also a much looked forward to social event where people could get together and meet after the long winters.

Background information about the Quarantore:
The quarantore is an elaborately staged ceremony to glorify the Eucharist which reached a height of complexity in the seventeenth century. Although the precise origin of the Forty Hours’ Devotion is wrapped in a good deal of obscurity, the Milanese chronicler Burigozzo describes the custom of exposing the Blessed Sacrament in one church after another as a novelty which began at Milan, in May, 1537

Forty Hours’ Devotion, also called Quarant’ Ore or written in one word Quarantore, is a Roman Catholic exercise of devotion in which continuous prayer is made for forty hours before the Blessed Sacrament exposed.

It is commonly regarded as of the essence of the devotion that it should be kept up in a succession of churches, terminating in one at about the same hour at which it commences in the next. A solemn high Mass, “Mass of Exposition”, is sung at the beginning, and another “Mass of Deposition” at the end of the period of forty hours; and both these Masses are accompanied by a procession of the Blessed Sacrament and by the chanting of the litanies of the saints. The exact period of forty hours’ exposition is not in practice very strictly adhered to; for the Mass of Deposition is generally sung at about the same hour of the morning, two days after the Mass of Exposition. On the intervening day a solemn Mass pro pace is offered — if possible, at a different altar from the high altar upon which the Blessed Sacrament is exposed. It is assumed that the exposition and prayer should be kept up by night as well as by day, but permission is given to dispense with this requirement when an adequate number of watchers cannot be obtained. In such a case the interruption of the devotion by night does not forfeit the indulgences conceded by the Holy See to those who take part in it.

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