Once a year, on the first Thursday of May, a unique event is held in Cocullo in Abruzzo region.
This event preserves an ancient middle ages tradition – the festival of snake capturers.
The festival is held for the honor of San Domenico Abate who, according to the local tradition, protects the residents from snakes’ bites and toothache. This is one of the known Paganism events which are still preserved in the Christian ritual. After the religious ceremony the believers cover the holy sculpture with live snakes and exit to the sounds of the church’s bells to a procession. In the head of the procession march the capturers of the snakes and women that carry traditional cakes that would be hand out to the needy.
The event reaches its climax at noon when the spectators hope that the snakes will surround the saint head – which is a good, (good omen) and not slide to its shoulder or arms because it indicates bad sign.