San Mango is a town with a great farming tradition, the true reservoir of suggestion and culture. The identity of the whole town is based on knowledge and experience linked to life in the fields marked by the passage of time and the seasons.
Every year, there are many events and festivals in San Mango d'Aquino which offer visitors the chance to try the tastes and get to know its traditions. The festival of the patron saint, St Thomas Aquinus, is celebrated on 28 January while the festival for St Francis da Paola is held 15 days after Easter.
One of the oldest, and most evocative, lay events was the Mietitura, a song in dialect chanted chorally by harvesters under a searing sun in the fields of ripe grain. It began as a revolt against the continuous oppression historically suffered by the people. The song encapsulated the different aspects of peasant life of the time, which was very hard and cruel. Every year, this song was performed by peasants in traditional costume in the streets of the town on the Tuesday of Carnevale. Unfortunately, this event is no longer continued.
Another interesting tradition was the Strina, an original ritual giving New Year wishes. On New Year’s Eve, a group of musicians started visiting the houses singing a song that was performed on the doorstep of the house. At the end of the last verse, the door was opened and the group went into the house where greetings were exchanged and the New Year was toasted. The group then went back to the road and carried on to other houses to repeat the song.
The tradition of the dance and the bursting of the Ciuccio and the Signorina, papier-mâché puppets covered in bangers carried by two hidden people who dance to the sound of the Raspa, still exists today. As the puppets slowly move, the bangers covering the bodies explode and the dance ends with the explosion of the two heads marking the end of the celebrations for the Madonna di Luglio. This tradition, a pagan purification ritual, is typical of many villages in Calabria, and also Sicily, southern Spain and Belgium, with variations to the figures represented.
The wine and food of San Mango d'Aquino reflects the peasant roots of its history which prefers simple but tasty dishes. The following traditional dishes can be found - tagljiarini, homemade pasta often flavoured with a pork sauce, omelette with salami, cheese and boiled egg, monacheddhe, a potato pasta filled with sardines, and grispeddhe, fried potato doughnuts. The best sweets include turdiddi, a sweet pastry covered in sugar or honey.