Battle of the Oranges is a festival taken place in the Northern Italian city of Ivrea, and this crazy, exciting festival is all about tossing oranges in each other’s faces in large groups. It is incredibly fun!
The festival doesn’t really have an origin, it seems like it just sort of happened one day and this became an annual tradition. The popular account is that it reminds all the participants of the festival of a time where Ivrea defied itself against the tyrant, who was either a member of the Ranieri family, or a conflation of the 12 century Ranieri di Biandrate. The tyrant tried to rape a young girl (often told as a miller’s daughter) on the eve of her wedding. He shouldn’t have tried to enact the droit d seigneur, because then the young woman decapitated the tyrant, and the entire town burned his house to the ground. Every year at the festival, one girl is chosen to play the part of Violetta, the miller’s daughter.
So where do the oranges come in? Well during the Battle of the Oranges, thousands of townsfolk divide into nine combat teams, and throw oranges at each other as a reminder of their liberation. They throw oranges to represent the throwing of stones, against “Aranceri” (orange handlers) riding in carts, who represent the tyrant’s ranks. It is a fun yet political festival, as inuring the french revolution when the french occupied Italy, the Aranceri were replaced to represent french officials. Another interpretation of the story makes oranges symbolize removing the testicles of the tyrant.
The festival takes place Sunday, Monday and Tuesday in February. It ends on Strove tuesday with a solemn funeral. The funeral is a silent march that closes the carnival and the “general” of the rebellion says goodbye by saying “arvedse a giobia a ’n bot” which means, “We’ll see each other on Thursday at one,” referencing when the festival with start again next year.