Have you ever seen a snake crowd-surf? On the first Thursday of May, in the mid-eastern Italian town of Cocullo, you just might.
A marriage of paganism and Catholicism, Cocullo’s Festival of Serpents is a day dedicated to warding off venom and bad omens. Thousands of photographers, ophidiophiliacs (snake lovers), and Catholics crowd together in the small town square, which is home to the local church that contains the statue of Saint Domenico. On this day, believers offer modest offerings to Saint Domenico and, having completed several rituals, cover him from head to toe with snakes.
These rituals are rooted in pagan traditions that date back to tribal practices within the region. Originating over 3,000 years ago, this festival was designed by the Marsi, who dedicated it to the snake goddess Angizia. The ritual was designed to ward off boars, wolves, and venom.
Read the full article on Passion Passport's website.