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Traditional Clothing of Molise

Updated: Dec 12, 2021

Today, the 8th of December, is a public holiday in Italy. On this day

the Catholic Church celebrates the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, preserved from the original sin all of her life. This day traditionally starts the Christmas celebration with the decoration of the Christmas tree and the making of the nativity scene, as well as the start of the Holiday shopping season. As a good wish for the Holiday season, many events take place on this day. And last night I was lucky enough to attend a special one in Campobasso: "La vestizione della sposa" (The dressing of the bride).

It was organized by a local expert of traditional costumes, Antonio Scasserra, who owns a huge, stunning collection of original clothing and jewelry from villages from all over Molise.

He and his wife created this unique performance in which they represent a wedding day of the late XIX century. While the actors on stage dress and prepare the bride, he tells the stories and beliefs connected to traditional costumes.

In the past, clothing was an important sign of the roles in society, especially for women. Every woman in her life had a special, beautiful dress specifically made for all the important days of her life. From the moment she reached puberty - and so was ready to be courted - to the wedding up till the day of her death, the dress would accompany her in every phases of her life. The dress was every time enriched with different details, which were a symbol of her new life stage. For example, the beautiful hat (called "mappa") was white for unmarried girls, colorful and rich in details for married woman, and black for widows.

On her wedding day, the bride was at the center of the attention of the whole community and every woman of the family had a specific role. For instance, the youngest sister of the groom had the task to bring the dress to the house of the bride and watch closely the whole dressing process, reporting every detail to her mother.

Every detail counted because there was a symbolism behind everything. If a piece of jewelry, like the earrings, would fall on the floor, it was a sign that the bride would struggle later in her life with her health. If the mother of the bride would get pinched by a pin, it was a sign that she would be an intrusive presence in the marital life of the newly married couple.

The dressing was also an occasion to invite the guests to visit the bride's home before she would move to the new home shared with the soon-to-be husband. On this occasion many sweet treats were offered to the guests: "taralli with naspro" (taralli with frosting), savoiardi (a special kind of cookies), ferratelle (a sort of sweet waffle) and liqueurs like "Rosolio".


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