A Mamuthones---a half-man--half-beast---dances in Mamoiada in central Sardinia during St. Anthony's Day.

A Mamuthones performs a wild dance to bring wishes of good luck to the crops. Photo by Stefano Baldi.

Mamoiada is a small town in central Sardinia that maintains very important, ancient traditions tracing back to pagan times.

On January 16, Saint Anthony’s Day, the local people of Mamoiada build big bonfires in town, one for every neighborhood. People gather together in the street day and night for three days in a row, eating and drinking, singing and dancing, and making their relationships stronger around the fires.

The second day, January 17, the Mamuthones—local, traditional, masked, half-men–half-beasts—come out from their “nests.” They move through town from fire to fire, visiting them all, performing their weird jumping dance around the flames, and bringing wishes of good crops for the fields where the ash from the bonfires will be spread.

The next time the Mamuthones will jump out from their hiding places is during Carnival, from February 10 to 12. WT will be there with the Pagan Festivals trip, which I’ll be leading!

–Photo and story by Stefano Baldi, Wilderness Travel Trip Leader, Pagan Festivals of Sardinia

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