Local traditions and culture in Corsica

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    The tradition of the Mazzeri - Soul night hunters

    by intl_dan Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Corsica has been a slow converter into Christianity, and many Corsicans still believe that a host of immaterial beings surround them, ghosts, spirits, often seen as the harbingers of death. Underlying these ancient beliefs is the concept of a dual universe - physical and spirit realm. Unlike Christianity, many Corsicans believe that the spirit is taken up to a year before death occurs.

    One of the agents of death are believed to be the mazzeri, derived from ammazza, to kill. They are said to become so if they were not baptised or christened improperly. At night they dream they go into the maquis, and then their spirt is said to depart from the body, and kills the first animal it sees, a wild boar, goat, sheep, dogs, etc... Then they roll the animal on its back and recognise in it the face of someone in their village, who is set to die within a year.

    A mazzere is said to be unable to choose his/her victim, and acts through a trance like state, and is thus not held responsible. They are not malicious by nature and often the prophecy greatly disturbs them. There are more women mazzeri believed than men, and are said to be more ferocious. There are still quite a few mazzeri in Corsica who are esteemed in their villages.

    Corsicans keep these traditions quiet, and if you want to find out then listen with an open heart. The traidition may partly derive its force from the particular family structure in Corsica, and pre christian, animistic beliefs. Just try to listen, Corsicans are very sensitive about value judgements, especially in this case. For a bit more information in French see the web site below.

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    FLNC

    by kokoryko Written Mar 27, 2011

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    Writing a few lines about the Front National de Libération de la Corse cannot be avoided when writing about Corsica, but nothing really political here, except that people who try to keep free have my respect, even I do not share their views on the way they do it most times. . . .
    I wrote here about resistance in the Niolu tips, and here is a bit more; Corsica, before being part of France, “belonged” to Pisa, Aragon or Genoa for several centuries, with short periods of independence. In 1730, Corsica declared its independence from Genoa, and was soon occupied by imperial troops, at the request of Genoa; Corsica made an attempt of independence again in 1735 with establishing a constitution, but soon, Genoa asked France to intervene and the French troops routed the Corsican, led by Nationalist Pasquale de Paoli, at the Ponte Novo battle in 1765; Genoa asked then France to administrate Corsica from 1768and. . . new irony of history. . . the French Revolution declared Corsica belonging to France in 1789. Later a famous Corsican became French emperor, but the average population was still wanting to keep Corsican. Next irony of History: in 1943, Corsica was the first part of France to be liberated from German occupation troops! Liberated, but still belonging to France.
    In 1976, the FNLC was “officially” created. The night of 4-5 may 1976 was marked by a “blue night”, a big number of bomb attacks, but no casualties, as they were mainly directed against official buildings, empty at that time. There are very few casualties in the attacks perpetrated by the freedom fighters, as they know that deaths will not make their cause popular.
    You may find long lists of assassinated people in Corsica on the Internet, but, if some assassinations can be directly related to fight for independence (few policemen, gendarmes, a prefect. . ), most of them are more likely related to vendettas, banditry . . . and so far no tourist has intentionally been killed, just for being a tourist!
    Later in the eighties, other clandestine groups have been created, and since, it is sometimes folkloric to learn about those attacks, but the people who do them mean it seriously!
    There is ABSOLUTELY no danger to travel in Corsica, as long as you respect people (like everywhere, in fact!), and the foreigner would even hardly know about if there were no the tags on the roadsides, in the streets, or the commemorative monuments here and there!

    Marks on buildings Road sign Road sign Everywhere
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    People of Niolu

    by kokoryko Written Mar 25, 2011

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    Not far from the entrance of the Santus Franciscus Niolensis monastery, is a small monument with a plaque reminding resistance days of the Niolu region (picture 2); here it says:” Corsican, don’t forget”, and it tells about patriots who have been hanged (it was before the invention of the Guillotine) by the occupation forces on June 23rd, 1774. . . they resisted to the French oppressor. . . . This was two and a half centuries ago, but, resistance is still a way of life in many parts of Corsica. . . . more here about that historical fact:
    http://www.unita-naziunale.org/portail/U%2023%20DI%20GHJUGNU%201774.htm
    Today, there are still Nationalists in Corsica, and many of them have their origins in Niolu; the ladies on the first picture, who kindly accepted I photograph them, have certainly a nephew, son, brother, cousin engaged in more or less violent resistance. . . . I do not agree with the way the resistance is conducted in Corsica, but have respect for people fighting for their freedom, their self-determination. One is sure: the modest traveller, the one travelling on his feet, who has respect for the locals is always welcome in the Corsica mountains!
    Who knows what stories the wrinkles on this face are memories and traces of (picture 3)?
    The villages of Niolu are not postcard villages as written in the previous tip, but the church towers, the small houses, the narrow streets (picture 4) give them some character, and it is also nice to walk from one village to the other, taking along a picnic, or having a rest in the village’s small café or restaurant.
    The Niolu tourist office (picture 5) was closed when I was in Calacuccia, but their website gives a lot of information (in French) about the region, and you certainly will find ideas for day hikes, treks or finding interesting churches or monuments. . . .


    What is written above is not about “folklore”, despite the pictures you can see on the following weblink: this is about the commemoration at the Ponte Novo, of the early days of resistance and the “colonialist repression”.

    http://www.unita-naziunale.org/portail/2009Actu/Mai09/090509-PONTENOVU_PHOTOS.htm

    Sitting in the Corsica sun. Commemorative plaque Madame. . . In a village Tourist office of Calacuccia
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    Beeeee...

    by satara Written Jul 8, 2005

    I was so excited that we met THEM, my SISTERS!!! beeehh...
    I'm born in the year of Goat, so every time I see some goats or sheeps on the road (like in Greece and obviously in Corsica), I know that my trip fellow will shout "look, your sisters!"... And it's always nice to meet someone from your family, no?:)

    sheeps and goats

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    LOCAL LANGUAGE

    by sdoca Written Jun 10, 2005

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    5 DAYS IN CORSICA
    Need to find a hotel in Bastia for the night of 29 and 30 Jun: EASY I SUGGEST THIS HOTEL ALSO I HAVE NEVER BEEN AND I HAVE NO "SHARES" IN IT SO IT IS JUST A SELECTION AMONG ALL THE MANY HHOTELS THERE
    http://www.bestwestern-corsica-hotels.com

    30 Jun - Bastia. I want to learn the dialect an American tourist can use anywhere on the island to say simple things like: thank you, Please, hello, how are you, good morning
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    I CAN TELL YOU THAT THE VOCABULARY YOU REQUIRE CANNOT BE TRANSLATED 100% LITERALLY AS YOU SAY EACH AREA OF THE ISLAND HAVE THEIR OWN SAY. MAYBE YOU COULD INTERVIEW AND WORK WITH A TEACHER THAT TEACHES CORSICAN .
    1 Jul - Take the train from Bastia to Ajaccio. How long does it take to reach Ajaccio and can you tell me what are the departure and arrival times? museum in the afternoon.
    THE TRIP FROM BASTIA TO AJACCIO IS 4H00 AND IT IS UNBELIEVABLE AND BEAUTIFUL VERY SLOW AND QUITE SCARY AT TIME BUT UNFORGETABLE. YOU CAN GO TO THE TRAIN STATION IN BASTIA: ADDRESS: Gare de Bastia
    Rond-point Maréchal Leclerc - BP 237 - 20294 BASTIA Cedex Tél. : 04 95 32 80 61
    CHECK TIMETABLE http://www.bastia.fr//kiosque/guide_429f0b13b1a03.pdf
    IT IS A GOOD IDEA TO VISIT NAPOLEON MUSEUM OPEN EVERYDAY EXCEPT MONDAY MORNING CHECK OUT
    http://www.musee-maisonbonaparte.fr/

    2 Jul - Spend the morning in Ajaccio sightseeing Either fly back to Bastia via air or take the train via the coast route back to Bastia.
    UP TO YOU I WOULD GO BACK BY TRAIN NEXT DAY AND SPEND MORE TIME IN BASTIA BEAUTIFUL OLD TOWN TO EXPLORE
    3 Jul - Maybe have time to go to the north cape area around Macinaggio by scooter in the morning.
    BY SCOOTER SOUNDS LIKE A CHALLENGE I HAVE NEVER TRIED IT I KNOW THERE ARE SOME BUSES BUT PERSONALLY I WOULD RENT A CAR BUT IF YOU ARE USED TO DRIVE SCOOTER GO FOR IT, THE CAP CORSE IS AMAZING, MY FAVORITES are: CENTURI, NONZA AND ERBALUNGA

    Napoleon's head on Caesar body
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    Old Houses

    by kyrzar Written Dec 16, 2004

    In Corsica, it seems that old houses don't die. They just linger. One of my first views of Corsica was an old half-ruined house beside the airport. I kind of liked this aspect of Corsica. The old houses give Corsica a certain character.

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    Corsican Identity

    by kyrzar Written Dec 10, 2004

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    Corsican's are really proud of their identity and their island. Corsican culture is its own animal, and the language is a lot closer to Italian than French.

    The place in the picture is Ponte Novu where the French defeated the Corsicans and gained control of the island. The white flag in the picture has the severed head of an Arab chief on it. This is the symbol of Corsica, and you'll see it a lot. Maybe it's no wonder you'll see "Arabi Fora" (Arabs Out) graffitied everywhere.

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    The Corsican Lanugage

    by intl_dan Updated Nov 28, 2003

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    Before the Romans came along, according to archeologists, Corsican was a non-indo-European language that resembled Basque. Over the generations Latin evolved into a langauge close to medieval Tuscan Piestoain - Corsu. It was mostly conserved in oral traditions and had very little written tradition The north and south now differ in their dialects. It has nothing to do with French, and has some similarity to Italian ( beware! it is not Italian and Corsicans are sensitive to such comments).

    The French have been doing their best to destroy this language, it was forbidden until 1974 to... spit and speak Corsican by law! Now they have loosened up a bit, but still restrict the language from obtaining a more institutional position. 70 percent of the Island speak it fluently, mostly between themselves. Dont try speak a few words you read in your travel guide to Corsicans, they dont like it.

    There are now theatre shows in Corsican, the best group isU Teatrinu, The director, Guy, is a knowledgable chap and has a great sense of homour!

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    Pascal Paoli and the Corsican Nation

    by intl_dan Updated Nov 28, 2003

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    Pascal who? The French destroyed the 1st secular republic, & tried to erase traces of it & its founder. As J.J.Rousseau said: I have a certain presentiment that one day this little island will astonish Europe (1769 The Social Contract)!

    All this due to Pascal Paoli, in Corsican, Pasquale; the younger (of 4) born in humble Morosaglia (see section) 1725. His childhood dominated by the war of independence, the bourgeois landowners, like father, Dr. Giacinto Paoli, had enough of the greedy Genoese oppressing and exploiting Corsica. In Boziu villages chased the Genoese tax men away, & Corsica waged the first anti-colonial struggle. When Pasquale was 6, his father was elected to the triumvirate of primates, to head Corsica. In 1735 Corsica declared its independence & the beautiful Dio Vi Salvi Regina, a hymn for the Virgin, its national anthem. Genoa tried to starve the population, and in 1739, asked France to help by an army to squash the patriots. Pasquale was exiled to Napolis military academy where he was influenced by the enlightenment philosophies.

    Eventually the Genoese assassinated father Paoli, and his sons elected Pasquale in 1755 to be the General of the Corsican Nation. He wrote a constitution, under the influence of Rousseau, that included the 1st human rights charter (copied by the USA). He opened public secular education, a university open to all (women and Jews!), set up printing press, and a tiny navy that surfed past a Genoese blockade to liberate the island of Capraia, & he ended that vendetta (ahem! by killing all the murderers). He became friendly with Rousseau, James Boswell, as well as the king Napoli (then the most enlightened kingdom of Europe). Try as the might the Genoese couldnt retake it, and in 1768 they got fed up and sold it for 2m lire to France. The French have been eying this little cookie for a long time, initially pushed out of the island, then arriving with a huge fleet. Little Corsica didnt have a chance, at Ponte Nuovo, 1769, it was defeated, & Paoli went to exile in London.

    Pasquale Paoli U babbu di a Patria
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    The official language is french

    by rachel_sun Updated Nov 9, 2003

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    The official language is French.Only women are regular church goers and men only enter the church during festivals.It is customrary to give a tip of about 10% to waiters and taxi drivers.Here is Vieux Port.

    beautiful Viex port
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    o babu di a patria

    by utttz Written Jun 4, 2003

    it's quite common to see pictures of Pascale Paoli.
    He was the man who made the first (and only) corsican constitution in the mid-late XVIII century and he's still called "u babu di a patria", the father of corse. Indipendence is in corsica still an hot matter even though young people is feeling more "french" in the last years. Do not joke on the matter, it can be a bit "dangerous" :-)

    u babo di a patria

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    Meeting 'True Corsicans' you should know that...

    by EricLe_Rouge Updated Dec 20, 2002

    'True' (non-violant) Corsicans are fighting :
    - for the respect and expansion of Corsican
    national identity
    - for the recognition of the Corsican people,
    and of its national rights
    - for the control by the Corsican national
    community of its further development in
    the economic, social, and cultural fields.

    The picture shown is of the extremist, violent organization FLNC (National liberation front of Corsica)

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    E Corne...

    by EricLe_Rouge Updated Dec 12, 2002

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    E corne, the horns, are a sign made by a clenched fist with the index and little fingers outstretched to make like a head with horns to defend yourself against the Evil Eye:'Inuchjatura' or 'ghjettatura' or simply the 'Eye' - l'ochju. This symbol is frequently worn as a talisman.
    The Evil Eye can be imparted without malice by accident, for example if one comments favourably on a baby, without adding God's blessing. Often simply referred to as 'the Eye', it can also be cast malevolently, when it will probably be necessary to seek the aid of una Signadore. A Signadore is a woman, who will have received her abilities on a Christmas Eve, generally from her mother, and who is able to reveal the patient's condition and deal with the Eye if it is manifested during her diagnosis. The symbolic ritual has been passed down through generations since time immemorial.

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    Independant Corsica...

    by EricLe_Rouge Updated Dec 12, 2002

    The 'Testa di Moru', the black Moor's head on a white background forms the national flag of Corsica.

    The Moor's head with a white bandeau was adopted by Pasquale Paoli in 1762 as the official emblem of independent Corsica. It was inherited from the kings of Aragon, who were invested with Corsica by the Pope in the Middle Ages. The Aragonese never conquered Corsica, but they claimed it as their own. It first appeared in Corsica in 1573 in an atlas showing the lands of Philip II.

    The bandeau originally blindfolded the eyes of the Moor, while it is now raised to his forehead. There are those who see its removal as a symbol of freedom from slavery. There are others, who claim that it dates from the time of the Saracen invasions and the Corsicans' habit of decapitating the moors. King Theodore, who also made use of this symbol in 1736, strangely had the bandeau covering the eyes.

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  • Public Holidays: 1 January -...

    by SusanneBeck Written Sep 7, 2002

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    Public Holidays:
    1 January - New Year's Day *
    March/April - Easter Monday *
    1 May *
    Ascension Day *
    Whit Monday *
    14 July - National Holiday *
    1 November - All Saints *
    11 November - 1918 Armastice *
    12 December - not official yet, but attempts are being made for a nationalist day. *
    25 December - Christmas *

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