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  • Writer's pictureSu Guillory

Preparing for Naca in Davoli

One of the highlights of springtime in Calabria is the week of Easter. Throughout Calabria, you'll find unique religious processions. One not to miss is Naca in Davoli, a quaint borgo located 15 minutes from Soverato.

Naca in Davoli: A Tradition Steeped in History

Naca processions can be found throughout Calabria, but the night of Venerdi Santo (the Friday before Easter) is particularly magical in Davoli.

Following a statue of Jesus laid to rest after his crucifixion (this is what is called the naca) you can find dozens and dozens of evergreen trees peppered with colored paper lanterns. Boys and men lug the trees, which can rise as high as 40 feet. They work in groups, taking turns to carry the tree, which, understandably, can be fatiguing work.

The lit-up trees meander slowly through the streets of this ancient village for several hours. You can hear the priest and others sing mournful songs that lament the passing of Christ.

The tradition has roots in Spain, from as far back as the 1700s, since Spain was one of the countries to conquer parts of Calabria. Word has it that at one time, a similar tradition happened in parts of Spain.

Preparing the Naca Lampioni

While the trees for the procession are cut the week before Easter, the preparations begin long before in a laboratorio in Davoli. In this workshop, children, teens, and grownups gather nightly to create the wax paper lanterns (lampioni) by hand.

It's a process handed down from generation to generation, and everyone who lives in Davoli has known how to make these lanterns since they were small.

A sheet of wax paper is wrapped around a wooden baton and then glued together. The end is folded after a candle holder has been placed inside. After being glued, the baton is flipped over and tapped hard on the table with a gleeful "TAC!" shouted for fun.

The lanterns are hung in the attic above to dry until the next step when wire handles will be added.

Waiting for the Big Night

The lanterns will wait in anticipation in the laboratorio until 5,000 have been made. On the Friday before Easter, volunteers will take the lanterns and hang them on the trees, waiting patiently throughout the village. Some are so large that the volunteers will climb out of second-floor windows to adorn the trees!

Once the lanterns are in place, they will be lit, and the magic begins.

Stay tuned for coverage of Naca in a future post!


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