The Sacred Pig. Ritual food-sharing on the feast of Saint Anthony in Celano, Italy

Francesco Della Costa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article focuses on the ethnographic case study of a festival revival observed in Celano, a hill town in Abruzzo (Italy). On 17 January, in accordance with the Catholic calendar, the community celebrates the feast of Saint Anthony the Abbot. In the folkloric iconography, the Saint is strongly connected with animals, specifically the pig, which is even represented with him in the sacred effigy. While in the past a more complex ritual was performed, what is central nowadays in the ‘re-invented’ tradition is the food sharing involving the whole community. On the feast night, a huge fire is set on the central square, and people flock around it, eat roasted pork sausages and drink wine. In the article, I discuss how the current ritual pork-sharing is emically maintained as a tradition to preserve the community’s identity, and how this enacts and reshapes the global–local dynamic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)570-591
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Modern Italian Studies
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • Saint Anthony the Abbot
  • Sant'Antonio Abate; rito; cibo; folklore; tradizione; globale-locale
  • folklore
  • food
  • global–local
  • ritual
  • tradition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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