“Farchie" Festival - Fara Filorium Petri (Ch)
The celebrations dedicated to Sant’Antonio Abate (17 January) are linked to the rite of fire.
The most spectacular representation is Feast of “Farchie" in Fara Filiorum Petri, with enormous bundles of reeds that create large bonfires through the streets of the village along with traditional Abruzzi songs, wine and food.
The folklore festival known as Farchie is held each year in Fara Filiorum Petri. The farchie ritual has its roots in the 1799 French invasion of Abruzzo. During this time the French forces had surrounded the town of Fara. Miraculously, Saint Anthony the Abbot is said to have appeared and as he did the oak trees surrounding Fara burst into roaring flames. Seeing this, the French soldiers fled Fara thus sparing the town from certain destruction and ruin. In another version of this story the Saint appeared as a general and sent word to the French troops who were very near Fara on their way from Bucchianico towards Guardiagrele. Saint Anthony forbade the French from attacking Fara but they did not heed him and as they approached the nearby oak trees burst into flames thereby engulfing the hapless attacking forces. The first written records documenting the farchie date back to the year 1890.
The farchie celebration likely has pagan roots with fire as the main symbolic feature. The burning of the farchie likely served as a form of purification, a protection from evil, and as a talisman of hope that abundant sunshine would lead to abundant crops in the coming warmer months that lie ahead. Historians trace the religious songs that accompany the farchie back to the late renaissance period in Spain during which plays and dramas were enacted portraying the adventures of Saint Anthony Abate in the desert.