2.a  The Razzioni di lu metiri 

The ritual of the "thanksgiving", or the 'razzioni di lu metiri (literally, prayers for the harvesting) is a rather complex process. First of all, it is important to bear in mind that the harvesters were organised into so-called "squads" or "gangs” generally made up of seven people, one of whom had the role of gang leader.



San Basilio, Galati Mamertino area, 1993

(Photo by G. Fiorentino)

The latter, also called cugghituri (gatherer) or liaturi (binder), directed the work of the harvesters and, depending on the layout of the field to be harvested, he would invite them to work moving rightwards (i.e. spada, meaning ‘sword’ because he would hold a sword in his right hand) or leftwards (brocca or biccheri or burcheri, meaning glass or jug, because he would be holding it in his left hand). He would get behind the gang of harvesters and would collect the sheaves of wheat. He had the job of addressing the massÓru, the proprietor of the farmhouse, so that he would distribute the wine or the meals during the day. Finally, he was the person who invited the harvesters to ringraziari u Signuri (thank the Lord) and sing the Salve Regina.

The thanksgiving was always performed after the short break for the second morning meal, at around 9.30. This habit always lasted at least twenty to thirty minutes, but could vary depending on the number of people in the gang of harvesters, and also on how long the workers themselves wanted it to last or on the length of the various 'razzioni (prayers).

The whole ritual can be split up into five sections, always present, but variable in their duration from one performance to another  [1].

The first of these sections is the gang leader’s invitation to pray: Annamu, picciotti, iazzamu la menti a Diu, ogn'ura ogni mumentu! (Come on lads, let us turn our minds to God, at every hour and at every moment!) There follow the 'razzioni of the gatherer -- generally an invitation to recall one’s dead or to recite prayers in honour of the Saints or the Madonna -- which usually ends by letting the harvesters speak and indicating the side of the line from which to start: Attacca, spada! The third section, perhaps the most interesting one from the ethno-anthropological standpoint, is that of the harvesters’ 'razzioni. Starting from the person pointed to by the gatherer, capu di spata or capu di biccheri, the harvesters follow one after another in their recitations (Cumpagnu ti mannu lu Signuri - Binvinutu a quannu veni! – Companion, I send you the Lord – May He be welcome when he comes!) vocally going along the line three times over, from right to left, from left to right and again right to left or vice-versa. This part comes to an end with the gatherer saying the final prayer, generally song of praise to God and the Madonna. Unlike the orations and the conclusions of the gatherer that are always prayers, the harvesters’ 'razzioni could have a religious character, but need not have one either, as each one of them was free, given the pre-established recital or intonation models, to perform pieces drawing inspiration from the Gospel, the lives of the Saints and episodes from the Passion of the Christ or again to address companions in an ironic tone or with mocking verses. At the end, the gatherer would follow up the request for wine that was underlined by the solo or choral interventions of the whole team of harvesters.

  Orations of the harvesting (mp3 file)





Let us open our minds to God/my good sirs/let us call and praise the name/of the most holy and divine Sacrament. (Delia)


Let us cross ourselves/as is the duty of Christian.(Delia)

Let us say a Credo to Jesus of the Sacraments/so that He may give us the strength and the health/to get through this holy day/for us and all the little Christians of the world/…Let us say a Hail Mary/an Our Father to all the angels/and the saints in Paradise so that they may pray for us…. Attacca "spada"... (Realmonte)



Saint Anthony, when he was sick/made a vow to go to Turkey/he was all mixed up and discouraged/as on foot he had such a long way to travel.

My Holy sacrament God and Mary

Be careful companion for the Lord is passing by/and when he passes by he passes by for everyone. (Galati Mamertino)   

Our Lady, how hot the sun is/saint Agatha let it set/I do not say this to you for the owner/I say this to you for the poor day labourers.

The name of my Saint/Father and Son and the Holy Spirit/ Sacrament, God and Mary.

He came by twice and twice we thanked him/He came to the end (of the line) and comes back/Jesus Christ comes back to the line. (Troina)

Three times the death and the passion that our Lord Jesus Christ suffered has been blessed and praised.

Careful binder for the Lord is passing by/and when he passes he leaves grace - welcome may his coming be! - (Delia)




And the angel with a greeting said/may hell die and Mary triumph.

Who created the eternal God/the most holy and divine Sacrament.

Let’s take the bottle, lads, /landlord (of the farm). (San Marco d'Alunzio)



I see him come, I see him appear/ the sacred barrel, bring it here to me.

and the little bird that sings in the morning/bring us the wine, bring it here to us.

The scythe is called Caterina/and if you don’t bring the wine it won’t work. (San Marco d'Alunzio)



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