Every first Thursday in May, a Saint's effigy, decorated with writhing snakes, is borne through the narrow streets of Cocullo, in the mountainous region of Abruzzi, Italy.
CV Snakes on ground tilt to boys picking and holding.
CV Snake round girls' neck.
CU Two girls, one with snake round neck.
CU Man draws snake from breast pocket PAN to another snake in hand.
MV Adorning Effigy of Saint Domenick with snakes.
CU Old women make sign of cross.
CU Head of effigy adorned.
CV Procession bearers with large cakes on head.
GV Procession moves off.
SV Effigy passes camera.
SLV Effigy borne along.
C HEAD ON VIEW..Procession.
CU Snake in hand of snake catcher in procession.
CU Effigy of saint past camera.
STV People following procession.
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Background: Every first Thursday in May, a Saint's effigy, decorated with writhing snakes, is borne through the narrow streets of Cocullo, in the mountainous region of Abruzzi, Italy. On may 5 the villagers - who gain their living from catching snakes - again celebrated this centuries old tradition.
During the days immediately preceding the feast, villagers go out 'en masse' to hunt for snakes. Every metre of the surrounding area is combed, and the snakes are brought back alive and kept in earthenware jars until the procession.
Men, women and children, all carrying live snakes, followed the statue of St. Domenick - the regions patron Saint - from the church, through the streets and back to the church for a service of thanksgiving for a goof 'halves'. Preceding the statue were two local girls bearing five large cakes in baskets. These cakes are traditionally given to the five male bearers.
For centuries the villagers of Cocullo have lived by catching snakes. First for medicinal purposes, and today for shoe manufacture and other decorative uses.