Festivals and Traditions

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festivals and traditions

Be amazed by the incredible offer of festivals, religious celebrations and popular traditions in the province of Vercelli. We are waiting for you to experience them in person!


A devotional procession common among the Walser, a people of German origin who settled at the foot of Monte Rosa centuries ago, and who left behind evidence of their religious, historic-artistic, and artisan traditions. This procession takes place at Alpe Vigne, above Alagna, on the first Sunday of October. It originated from the custom that the valley dwellers had of going to pray the rosary on the Sesia glacier, below Monte Rosa, for the souls that wandered there in the form of butterflies. After reciting the rosary, they would have a snack and then throw the leftovers into the crevasses to feed the spirits. The custom was revived in 1982.

mercu scÛrot – CARNEvalE DI BORGOSESIA

The most traditional and characteristic expression of Borgosesia’s Carnival, the Mercû Scûrot, was established in 1854 by a group of pranksters who decided to celebrate the “funeral” of Carnival in their own way on Ash Wednesday, accompanying a casket containing a straw puppet that represents Carnival through the streets of the medieval village. The following year, the puppet was given the name “Peru Magunella”: Peru from the local pronunciation of the town’s patron saint (St. Peter), and Magunella from “Magoni”, a nickname by which the people of Borgosesia were identified. It wasn’t until 30 years later that the puppet was replaced by a person and given a consort, the “Gin Fiammàa”. The Saturday night dance parties are characteristic of Borgosesia’s carnival, as are the evenings dedicated to cultural events and the three separate afternoon masked parades.


This event originated in 1833, when the processions that were organised by the individual confraternities (which began in the 18th century and were soon regulated by a precise order of appearance) joined that of the Holy Crucifix of Saint Andrew’s Company, which took place in Vercelli on Good Friday. The so-called “machines” are sculptural groups, made from coloured wood, which represent the various episodes of the Passion of Christ, from the olive garden to the Crucifixion. In ancient times, the stretcher used for carrying sick people was called a “machine”. The term later came to mean, in a broader sense, the base on which statues were placed for transport. The “machines” are transferred on Friday to the Basilica of Sant’Andrea, where the procession that brings them all together begins. It then continues by candlelight and torchlight through the streets and piazzas of the town’s centre. A relic of the Holy Cross is also carried in the procession.


Some say this custom originated from a religious vow that the population made when praying for the end of the plague, but it more likely arose spontaneously. In fact, for St. George’s Day it was customary to take the animals, yoked to carts, in procession all the way to the so-called pylon, a kind of milestone outside the residential area. Returning to the town, each driver wanted to be the first to bring back the blessed bread, and thus tried to overtake the other carts by prodding on his own pair of oxen. This may be how the race originated, with the ceremony around it becoming more institutionalised as the centuries passed: the starting positions are now drawn by lottery, the oxen are covered with garlands and caparisons and the drawbars of the carts are decorated; and the procession of the patron Saint’s relics has been added.

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