What is Caremma in South Italy? Very particular salentine tradition on Easter period
In a land that is historically very faithful in Christ, Easter is a very important event, a period of penance and of strong repentance and expiation of sins.
The faithful going towards a spiritual path to absolution through penance for the sins to their brothers and sisters. A hard road along, accompanied the impressive processions to reach the fully pure Easter Sunday celebration, free from the forms of earthly sin. Despite these traditions radically linked to religion and to the Christian world, the Easter period also hides a pagan custom.
Finally each should relase the soul from sin before Easter, but this is done in a goliadric way. In fact, especially in Gallipoli, walking through the streets, you will notice the “quaremma” or “caremma”, a puppet made of straw or wooden sticks, made with old rags, which recreates an old lady, very similar to the depictions of the Italian Befana.
This puppet is dressed with “cu lu maccaturu” (with a black scarf to wear on one’s head) “la scialla” (wearing a shawl) and “lu tamantile” (apron from the waistline down) and she is intent on spinning wool “cu la cunucchia” (by a distaff) and “lu fusu” (the spindle )
Walking in the villages of the lower Salento, on the roofs of some houses, in the squares, in the countryside, we find this old and ugly lady, sitting on a chair, holding a “cannocchia” (by a distaff) and a “mela amara” ( bitter apple). The old woman finally is burnt on Holy Saturday on a public square.