The recording of Lipa Mara was posted to the Internet on the Popular Social Ensemble channel of the “YouTube” content platform to mark St Lucy feast day in the village of Mundimitar (Montemitro). This year the traditional festival in honour of the saint could not be staged, so the ethnic community in the Molise enclave chose to celebrate their Croatian roots through this recording.
The KroaTarantata folklore group of the ethnic Croatian enclave in the Molise region of neighbouring Italy (https://www.facebook.com/kroatarantata/) joined forces with young people of the Arbëreshë Italo-Albanian ethnolinguistic group in the southern Italian region of Calabria, and other young musicians from various parts of Europe working in the frame of the Popular Social Ensemble project, to record the Molise enclave folk song Lipa Mara during the lockdowns imposed as a consequence of worldwide coronavirus fears. The Popular Social Ensemble is an international project initiated by young Arbëreshë people in Calabria that aims to create a permanent shared space for musical production. It also aims to serve as a medium for the preservation and dissemination of cultural heritage with a particular focus on linguistic minorities and means of remote social integration, in expectation of a return to actually playing, singing and dancing together.
The recording of Lipa Mara was posted to the Internet on the Popular Social Ensemble channel of the “YouTube” content platform on the 29th of May of this year to mark the St Lucy feast day in the village of Mundimitar (Montemitro), referred to in the local dialect as sveta Luca or sta Luca. The holiday is known in Mundimitar as nazanji petak (“Final Friday”). The legend has it that ethnic Croatians “from the other side of the [Adriatic] sea” came to the Molise region one Friday in May with a wooden statue of St Lucy. This led to the worship of Saint Lucy in Mundimitar, traditionally celebrated on Fridays in May, especially the last Friday in the month. This year the traditional festival in honour of the saint could not be staged, so the ethnic community in the Molise enclave chose to celebrate their Croatian roots by recording the folk song Lipa Mara.
The KroaTarantata folklore group was founded in Mundimitar in 2010 with the objective of preserving and promoting a musical heritage that has been nurtured as part of an oral tradition going back five centuries in the community of the ethnic Croatian Molise enclave. In 2019 the community released its first compact disc recording in the Molise Croatian dialect under the title Duša naša (“Our Spirit”). In the literature Lipa Mara is often cited as the oldest song nurtured by the community in the Molise region, likely part of the heritage brought there by the refugees coming over from the Dalmatia region five centuries ago.
The first fragments of the melody were recorded in 1855 and since then the song has attracted the attention of scholars, other interested persons, philologists and travellers visiting the Molise Croatian minority community. We now know of numerous versions of the song, most to a greater or lesser extent fragmentary, such that the folk that sing the song have in many cases, over time, become oblivious to its original meaning. The various versions and motifs have gradually been interwoven such that a reconstruction of the original text is now quite difficult.
By: Francesca Sammartino
Listen to Lipa Mara at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_g98qagWfqA