18 February 2012

Valdesians or Waldensens, Walking Proud and Free

Pomaretto Vadesian Temple and marchers February 17, 2012
If you have read my blog over the years you may have read about one of our most famous local historical points of notoriety, being part of the original home of the Valdesians, as they are referred to here and Waldensens elsewhere. Our Chisone valley along with the Germansca and Pellice valleys are collective referred to as the Valdesian valleys. They were purportedly to be the first Protestants arriving here from Lyon with their leader Peter Waldo, somewhere in the late 12th century.  These valleys all share a certain rugged remoteness that kept the "heretics" safe at least for many years. They have had a rough and often brutal history being persecuted for their beliefs, but found a home here that still holds them safe in the heart of these Cottian alps.You can read about their history here, although I have heard different versions and much discussions of some of this information, but as it dates back over 800 years, and they were so viciously persecuted, it stands to reason that much written history has been lost over the years and much speculation survives.
February 16th bonfire night for the Valdesians
The remains from the Pomaretto bonfire
Leaving this dark part of the history behind we find that February 17, 1848, when they were finally granted their civil rights,  a time of great celebration. To get the word out that they were free and equal citizens, they lit bonfires up and down the valleys to celebrate this momentous occasion. Today the celebration lives on with bonfires on the night of the 16 of February, followed by a procession the following morning through the valley joining up with neighboring Valdesians, accompanied by the local band, stopping along the way for refreshments featuring local festive pastries, like "bugie", which translates to lies. These are rectangular fried dough pieces that can be puffy and filled with either jam or chocolate, or long and thin and fried crispy. Both usually dusted with powdered sugar or not and eaten with abandon.
Refreshments for the Marchers
You can find my bugie recipe here.  After a bit of a breather, some refreshments and a bit of catching up with one another, the procession continues until they reach their church called a temple and all gather to worship together and commemorate this joyous day.

Catching up

Our friend Loredana
This year we had gorgeous blue skies and temperatures were quite mild for this time of the year and you could see everyone was enjoying the glorious day. I joined in and enjoyed the day as well meeting some our good friends along the way as well. Most families gather together after church for a special meal at home or out in one of the restaurants that will feature some of their favorite dishes. One menu I saw, featured Valdesian soup, and Bollito Misto. It was a beautiful day and I hope you enjoy a brief peek into one of our valley's centuries old traditions.
Young Valdesian girls
Valdesian  women marching on Liberation day

Links to my posts from other February 17ths

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