Saint Dominic – the Saint who protects people against snakebites

Podcast EN : Festivals dans le monde

Nous connaissons tous Halloween et Thanksgiving, mais il existe des festivals que nous connaissons très peu.

Écoutez le podcast Vivaling English pour découvrir ces festivals inhabituels et améliorer votre vocabulaire !

CECRL niveau B1 et plus

Festivals around the world

The VivaLing English Podcast has episodes related to some famous festivals in the English-speaking world. You can find out about Halloween, Guy Fawkes Night, Thanksgiving and Christmas, but today let`s find out about something different – Festivals which may not be so famous and where unusual things happen. Just knowing about these festivals will put a smile on your face and who knows? You might even be able to go and visit them one day.

Imagine this. You are in a street surrounded by thousands of people. Strange loud music is played to frighten away evil spirits. Children are suspended in the air above swords, and then suddenly acrobats climb up towers covered with bread (By the way, it`s the towers that are covered in bread, not the acrobats.) The agile climbers put as much bread as they can into their bags and then climb down again.

But where do you think you are: in Russia, in Hong Kong or in Peru?

The answer will be at the end of this podcast.

I have been to many countries around the world, and I like going to festivals. You can listen to music, eat different food and enjoy the celebrations of a new culture.

Today, I am going to tell you about three unusual festivals. You have to listen carefully because one of them doesn`t exist. I made it up.

Number 1
Welcome to Italy, more specifically to Cocullo in the Abruzzo region. In the Italian countryside, many people are afraid of snake bites and quite rightly, too, as snakes can be poisonous. This festival celebrates Saint Dominic – the Saint who protects people against snakebites.

Throughout the early spring, the local people collect snakes and keep them in captivity. Then, on the day of the festival, they embellish an enormous statue of the Saint with the snakes.

They carry the statue through the streets and help to keep it covered with snakes. If the snakes fall off, it will bring bad luck to the farmers. Women wear snake-shaped pastries on their heads, and children walk along with snakes in their hair, on their heads and on their shoulders.

Fear not animal lovers. When the festival comes to an end, the snakes are released back into the wild.

Number 2
Welcome to Brazil and, of course, the jumping mouse festival of Goncalves Minas Gerais.

The mountains in the Mantiqueira region of Brazil are famous for a rare species of jumping mouse called the Rato Pulador.

This mouse was believed to have magical powers and is never killed by the local people. In fact, they even hold a festival to celebrate its position in their culture.

Children are dressed up as mice, and a competition is held to see which child can jump in the most realistic fashion.

The winner has to leap up and down in the costume on a trampoline on the Night of the Jumping Mouse. Like most festivals in Brazil, the people eat traditional food, drink beer and other beverages and play loud music until the early hours. They even have a special “dance of the jumping mouse.”

But is it true?

Number 3
Why not come to Matsunomoya in Japan, but maybe not if you have been recently married, especially if you are the bridegroom.

In this festival, men who have been married in the previous year are handed out some rough treatment.

As it is a winter festival and Matsunomoya is in the mountains, the region is usually very cold and very snowy.

The men are carried up to the top of a mountain by another group of men, from where they are thrown into the snow and have to roll all the way down to the bottom of the mountain. Before this grievous task, they are required to drink large quantities of sake – a Japanese alcoholic drink made from rice. Even then, the worst is not over.

A large fire is lit, and the people wait for the fire to go out. When this happens, the men have to rub the black ashes into their faces. This is usually considered so much fun that everyone joins in, and even the Japanese police are covered in black ashes.

Well, well, well. I love the sound of these three festivals, and I would be happy to go to any of them. Unfortunately, one of them does not exist, but which of them do you believe in: the Italian snake festival, the Brazilian festival of the jumping mouse or the Japanese husband throwing festival?

The answer is that the Brazilian jumping mouse festival does not exist, but it does sound fun, so maybe you would like to create a festival like this where you live.

There were some interesting words used in this podcast which I would like to check you have understood. After all, the podcast is not just about fancy festivals but also about improving your vocabulary.
I have selected 5 words which I think it will be useful for you to remember and use.

What is a bridegroom?
What are ashes?
What is a grievous task?
What does “to leap” mean?
What does “to embellish” mean?

Let`s see if you can remember the words from their context.

In Italy, they make the statue more beautiful by decorating it with snakes – to embellish.

A difficult and serious piece of work is to be carried to the top of the mountain and roll all the way down. This is a grievous task.

When a couple gets married in Matsunomoya, the man has special things to do. He is the – bridegroom.

In Brazil, the children have to jump very high in the air. This is to – leap.

In Matsunomoya, they take the leftovers of the fire and place them all over their face. These are the – ashes.

And as to our question from the beginning of this podcast, where do you think the festival with children paraded on swords, towers of bread and strange music takes place?

The options were Russia, Peru or Hong Kong.

The correct answer is Hong Kong, so if you want to go and see crazy towers with acrobats climbing up them to collect the bread buns, you know where to go – the Cheung Cheu Bun Festival.


jump snottyboy
swords clashing – mike koenig
evil laugh himan
strange noise and sound at carnival –
electronic chime – kevanGC
Sakura 2020 by Roa Music |
Music promoted by
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License
Picture: Abruzzo24ore Tv

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