The Ancient Traditions of Ferragosto in Messina: The Vara and the Legend of Mata and Grifone

Immersing oneself in local traditions is one of the best ways to discover the authenticity of a destination. And if there is one tradition that embodies the soul of Messina, it is undoubtedly the celebration of the "Vara." In this article, we will take you on a journey to explore the summer traditions of Messina, focusing on the magic of the Vara and the legend of Mata and Grifone.

The Vara: A Unique Expression of Devotion and Community

The celebration of the Vara is an annual religious event held on August 15th in Messina, in honor of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into Heaven. During this festival, a majestic 17-meter-high wooden structure called the "Vara" is carried on the shoulders of the "varraioli" through the city streets. The history of the Vara has ancient roots dating back to the 13th century. Initially, the characters depicted on the structure were real people, usually members of the local nobility or influential families. Over time, wooden statues representing biblical and historical figures replaced the real individuals, but the solemnity and importance of the procession were retained.

The Vara, beautifully adorned with flowers and sparkling lights, creates an impressive vision of devotion and tradition. The procession is accompanied by music, songs, and fireworks displays, transforming the streets of Messina into a stage of emotions.

It is not only a religious event but above all a moment of sharing and unity for the Messina community. Residents and visitors come together to participate in this unique celebration, celebrating their roots and the identity of the city.

The Legend of Mata and Grifone, the Legendary Founders of the City.

But the Vara procession is not the only expression of traditions celebrated in Messina during the summer. From August 10th to August 14th, the gigantic wooden statues of Mata and Grifone, the legendary founders of the city, tower over Messina and its inhabitants during a fascinating and unique procession.

According to legend, during the Saracen invasions of Sicily, a large Moor named Hassas Ibn-Hammar landed in Messina and fell in love with Marta, the daughter of the local lord Cosimo II da Casteluccio, originally from Camaro. Due to the local dialect, the girl's name was twisted to "Mata." The pirate desired to marry the young woman, but it only happened after he embraced the Christian faith. His name changed from Hassan to Grifo, or rather, Grifone, in reference to his imposing size. The two married and together founded the city of Messina as we know it today, populating it with their descendants.

Our accommodation, located in the heart of the city, will allow you to actively participate in the festivities, being just a few steps away from the streets animated by the processions.

Messina is a city distinguished by its rich history and fascinating traditions, and these festivals are an opportunity to immerse yourself in Messina's culture, living an unforgettable experience.

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