In Molise there is a special way (perhaps unique in the world) to celebrate the beginning of the new year. In Gambatesa, a small and characteristic village about 30 kilometers from Campobasso, on the border with Puglia, a centuries-old tradition has been renewed every New Year for 320 years: the Maitunat. It is a special event that involves the village all night long, in a choral festival of songs and music.
What are the Maitunat in Gambatesa? Rhyming folk songs, with a playful and mocking tone, improvised to mock the owners of the houses where the singer goes with his group of musicians.
The Maitunat reveal the most striking episodes that occurred during the year, including secrets or betrayals.
On New Year’s Eve everything is allowed, as long as it rhymes and respects the spirit of the event. Beyond what is said, there is no home that refuses to listen to the maitunat and to give hospitality. It has something liberating, the freedom to say – at least for one day a year – really what you want, without fear of offending or injuring anyone.
Making a maitunat is not only a matter of technical skills and qualities but requires a special mix of imagination, genius, irony, improvisation skills and, last but not least, a thorough knowledge of the village, its inhabitants and the events that occurred during the year.
There are several Maitunat in Molise but that of Gambatesa is special, different from the others.
Opening photo from www.maitunat.it