Lancio del maiorchino (Italy)

Lancio del maiorchino (Italy)

  • Name of sport (game): Lancio del maiorchino
  • Name in native language: Lancio del maiorchino
  • Place of practice (continent, state, nation):

    Novara di Sicilia, Italy

  • History:

    The Majorcan game was very popular in the past in the province of Messina, especially in the Nebrodi and Peloritani areas. Today it survives only in Novara di Sicilia, where time seems to have stopped and whose inhabitants, very attached to traditions, usually practice it. The first "Majorcan" began to tumble through the characteristic streets of Novara di Sicilia probably in the first thirty years of the 1600s, a time when pedestrians and animals began to walk the road that goes from the beginning of the descent of the Chiesa Matrice to Piano Don Michele. It is thought that the Majorcan game could not have existed before due to the difficulty of practicing it in the narrow Via del Passitto, characterized by dead ends. Among the curious stories that pass on the alleged origins of the Majorcan game, there is the one according to which it seems to be a transformation of the game of the "ruzzola", which consisted of a wooden disk thrown and rolled through the streets. But those who tell it add that this transformation was nothing more than the result of a fun carnival bet between shepherds and producers of the delicious cheese to prove who had produced the best quality cheese: if the shape, in the "tumbling", had broken meaning that that product did not have the qualities of a good Majorcan.

  • Description:

    In the Novara dialect, "a maiurchèa" is a form of local pecorino cheese (from 10 to 12 kilograms with a thickness of 10 - 12 cm. And with a diameter of around 35 cm.) That is launched with the mazzacorto (lazzàda 3 - 3.50 m) wrapped around the circumference.

    The Launch of the Maiorchino is a game of skill between teams which consists in launching a form of Maiorchino (a local pecorino cheese weighing 10 kg and aged for eight months). The winner is whoever completes the established course with the least number of throws. The launch is carried out with the Lazzada, that is a shoemaker's twine of about 3 meters.
    It is a game that derives from the peasant and pastoral world of the province of Messina at the beginning of the 1600s, when the cheesemakers rolled the wheels in the street to control the maturing of cheeses.

    Competitors compete in the tournament using cheese wheels weighing from 10 to 18 kg. The tournament takes place on the traditional route from via Duomo to via Bellini and Piano Don Michele. The unique tournament consists in rolling a wheel of mature formaggio maiorchino along a path that winds for over two kilometers along the narrow streets of the town. 16 teams of three competitors regularly play, starting from "cantuea da chiazza" and reaching a goal: "a sarva". It is launched with a "lazzada" of about 1.00-1.20 meters, which allows the launch greater strength, speed and precision. The winner is whoever arrives first with fewer shots to hit "a sarva".
    The game has precise rules to respect, among these: each team must indicate its own captain who can confer with the referees to possibly assert their reasons; each team must equip themselves with a "lazzada" to be twisted around maiorchino cheese for the launch; the team that is drawn first begins the game (touch); each contender must throw maiorchino cheese from the marked point, without any run-up, using the support foot ("pedi fermu"); in the event that maiorchino cheese breaks during the match, he will be replaced with another form of maiorchino cheese of equal weight and the previous throw will be considered valid; at the end of each match maiorchino cheese must be returned to the Olimpia club (the association that organizes the tournament and maiorchino cheese festival).
    The event ends with the ritual "Sagra del Majorchino", with tasting of ricotta, tuma, maiorchino cheese and, last but not least, with a mega maccheronata with pork sauce whitened by abundant Majorcan, a typical local pecorino cheese.

    The Maiorchino
    It is a raw hard cheese; it is produced with raw whole sheep's milk sometimes mixed with goat, the traditional equipment is the "quarara", the "jug", the "Garbua" (wooden fascera), the "mastrello" (wooden board), the "fascedde "; peculiarity of the processing is represented by the drilling of the dough, with a thin iron rod called "menaccino", which favors syneresis; after two days the cheeses are dry salted for 20/30 days. The seasoning takes place in stone buildings, sometimes underground, cool and humid, equipped with wooden shelves. It can last up to twenty-four months. The shape is cylindrical with flat or slightly concave faces, the rind is amber yellow tending to brown as it ages, the paste is white tending to straw yellow, the consistency is compact. The weight can vary from 10 to 18 kg. In the mouth, the herbaceous, floral and fruity aromas characterize this cheese with a strong and spicy taste, especially if aged.

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    Game Rules
    Art. 1 The game consists in throwing il maiorchino along the path that goes “from cantuèa da Chiazza to sarva du chièu don Michèri” (almost 1 km);
    Art. 2 Each team must report, before the start of the match, their captain, who can confer with the match judges to assert their reasons "in case ... there were any";
    Art. 3 The team that is drawn first begins the game (toccu);
    Art. 4 Each player must throw il maiorchino from the marked point, without any run-up, using the support foot (pèdi fermu);
    Art. 5 The team that first reaches the point of arrival (a sarva) with the same number of throws (corpi) wins. In the event of a possible appendix, continue, as usual, along the road that leads to the Corte Sottana mills.
    Art. 6 In the event that il maiorchino breaks during the match, the point where the largest piece will stop will be marked and it will be replaced with another form of il maiorchino of equal weight;
    Art. 7 For anything not provided for in this “regulation”, the atavistic and ancient rules of the “Game of the Maiorchino in Novara” remain in force;

  • Current status:

    In Novara di Sicilia it is still practiced, with a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of participation, following the usual, old and few rules that govern the game.
    Unfortunately, today il maiorchino is produced in limited quantities, also because the sanitary regulations are quite complicated and therefore many shepherds have given up the production and direct sale of this cheese. Traditional production techniques are complex and require time, experience and care, and seasoning is long and expensive. Also thanks to the lancio di maiorchino competition, the local heritage is preserved, which allows us to tell about this old tradition in an original way, respecting it and preserving the memory of it.


  • Importance (for practitioners, communities etc.):

    Viewers have a keen interest in taking the side of one or the other challenger; there is an atmosphere of elation and exaltation, rivalry and competition, comparisons and preferences, forecasts and predictions, while in the hustle and bustle of people, supporters of one or the other side, you can hear the memories of the "famous" throws of players who went down in the history of the "Maiorchino game", come to life. As if browsing an ancient dictionary, words are pronounced in different languages as you play. Hear archaic words and accents; these are words that are not repeated throughout the year, but only on the occasion of the Novara winter festival.
    Tutaj są niektóre z nich:
    Preliminaries: "u touchu" - "scratch a maiurchèa i strìghila bora o muru" - fagìdivi fa a lazzàda 'nciàda du scarpàu "-" guàrdici u strittu "-" mòglia bora a maiurchèa ".
    Methods, causes and effects of the launch: "mòglia bora a lazzàda" - strìngila bella ditta "-" schìccila a màu dritta "-" daj nam na runcàda "-" lanzila o spìgu da cappillitta "-" mèttici u strittu p'a cariètta " - "mèttici un giru e menzu i lazzada" - 'mbuccàu "-" a' mbusciuèu "-" a cattafuccàu "-" si ni niscìu i to lazzu "-" si smugliau "-" si cuglìu "-" sarvàu " .
    Notices: "guardèmmu" - "i ghemmi".
    Stages along the way: „spizzigàu u spigu da casa i Paradùri” - „mbuccàu o spigu da Cappillitta da Madonna du Carmu” - sprusciàu cu muru da casa i don Gneziu Sufia „-” pigliàu a scinnada da Matrìcàu „-” si daventi o buccu i vallo Faànga "-" ci spunnàu a porta ò Pastàu "-" caràu p'a strada du tiattru e scinnìu 'ntà l'ortu du zì Miccu "-" caràu a San Giorgi a chiappa i Garbàdu "-" tak curcàu 'nto chièu ”-„ si' nziccàu to cattafuccu ”.

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