Food, Festival and Religion explores how communities in northern Italy find a restorative sense of place through foodways, costuming and other forms of materiality. Festivals examined by the author vary geographically from the northern rural corners of Italy to the fashionable heart of urban Milan. The origins of these lived religious events range from Christian to vernacular Italian witchcraft and contemporary Paganism, which is rapidly growing in Italy.
Francesca Ciancimino Howell demonstrates that during ritualized occasions the sacred is located within the mundane. She argues that communal feasting, pilgrimage, rituals and costumed events can represent forms of lived religious materiality. Building on the work of scholars including Foucault, Grimes and Ingold, Howell offers a theoretical ‘Scale of Engagement’ which further tests the interfaces between and among the materialities of place, food, ritual and festivals and provides a widely-applicable model for analyzing grassroots events and community initiatives.
Through extensive ethnographic research and fieldwork data, this book demonstrates that popular Italian festivals can be ritualized, liminal spaces, contributing greatly to the fields of religious, performance and ritual studies.