Today we’re island hopping over to gorgeous Sardinia to celebrate the Festa dei Candelieri in Sassari. Every 14th of August, Sardinia’s second largest city is overrun with 3-metre-long wooden candlesticks adorned with colourful silk ribbons, flowers and veils, drumbeats and many, many chanting spectators.

The origins of the ritual are disputed, but many believe that the tradition dates back to medieval times when people from Pisa settled on the island and brought their candle-making heritage with them. A 1265 record indicates that a candle of a specific form, weight and amount of wax was to be offered yearly for the Feast of the Assumption in the middle of August. Indeed, similar candle-centric celebrations are held throughout Tuscany, the region of Pisa, especially around the 15th of August.

It is undisputed, however, that from the late sixteenth century on, the candlesticks in Sardinia have come to be symbols of devotion and gratitude to the Madonna for helping the island survive the Plague.

And so each year, men dressed in traditional Sardinian costumes dance through the streets of Sassari while supporting giant candlesticks on their shoulders, accompanied by a steady drum beat and the faint sweet tweets of a fife as seen and heard here:

Along with the celebration in Sassari, the Candelieri also appear in Nulvi on the 14th of August and in Ploaghe and Iglesias on the 15th.

I’m partial to the fife, but what’s your favourite part of this spectacular show?

Official website: Candelieri di Sardegna


Michelle Fabio is a freelance writer and attorney who has lived in her ancestors’ village in Calabria, the toe of the boot, since 2003. You can read more about Michelle, her writing, Calabrian fiancé Paolo, trilingual (English, Italian, Calabrese) dogs Luna and Stella and experiments in the kitchen at Bleeding Espresso.