Florence’s Festival of Crickets

Every Ascension Day (I think it's May 13 this year), there's a very special celebration in Cascine Park in Florence, Italy. It’s called the Festival of Crickets (Festa del Grillo in Italian). As you may know, I’m a fan of other countries' oddball festivals, and this certainly qualifies. I’m also a fan of crickets, so this event is right up my alley.

The Festival of Crickets tradition dates back to the 18th century (or even further if you count the precursor festivals that would take place in Cascine Park as far back as the 16th century). Back in the early days of the Festival of Crickets, men would give their loved ones live crickets in cages, which were symbolic of good luck. Then, at the end of the day, everyone would set their crickets free in the grass.

In our modern times, animal rights folks don’t like the idea of caging and tormenting live crickets, so these days they've been replaced with artificial crickets made out of clay. The fake crickets are sold in colorful cages as souvenirs to give to that special someone. Apparently the fake crickets make noise just like real crickets. Not sure if they bring as much good luck though.

Anyway, the Festival of Crickets is about more than just crickets. It’s also about food, all kinds of sweets, and a bunch of musical performances. All in all, it sounds like a good day to be in the park. Speaking of the park, it looks like a really nice place to be, Cricket Festival or no Cricket Festival.

Photo: TomStardust via Flickr (CC license)

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