The Feast of St. Paulinus is an annually held festival which is celebrated in several parts of the world. The celebration portrayed in the documentary “The Men Dancing the Giglio” took place in Brooklyn in 1995. The event is organized in memory of the famous historical Italian figure known for contributing to the liberation of the captivated Italian citizens in the ancient times. The meeting unites visitors offering different activities, drinks, and food, but the main event is the walk of the Giglio lifters controlled by the capo. The capo, Giglio lifters, musicians, street traders, and organizers of other activities are the main participants. Since the key idea of the celebration is to honor the ancient Italian canonized leader and recall the customs of those times, the celebration is, thereby, dedicated to the Italian culture and ethnicity. Therefore, the Feast of St. Paulinus is an important event held every year in Brooklyn whose aim is to unite people who love Italian culture.
The Feast of St. Paulinus begins with an opening ceremony, then proceeds to the central event – dancing the Giglio, and finishes with a massive celebration and a closing ceremony. The event includes dancing, music performances, selling drinks, food, and clothing with the festive attributes. The festival time is operated through the strict abidance to the music rhythm and the capo’s commands. The St. Paulinus’s statue placed on a wooden construction approximately five floors in height helps to always remember that the saint has freed the Italian slaves from the African invaders. This construction itself called the Giglio reminds about the lilies brought by the citizens in honor of the saint in those times. Moreover, the use of music and the capo’s work show that the Italian immigrants in the United States have preserved their identity as the posterity of a great nation that was once captivated. There are no special costumes except for the red scarves and hats. Legends about Paulinus and the music involved in the 17th century are the central components of the fete. As Gmelch (1971) notes, rituals appear when the great achievements are possessed (p. 40). One can see them in the strict adherence to the order in which the Giglio should be lifted up and down not to harm the spine – the movement should be synchronous and in accordance with the music rhythm. It is evident as according to the Gmelch’s statements mentioned above, these are effective movements which should not be violated. Therefore, the festival is highly symbolic and culturally enriched.
The fete has a considerable function in the lives of Italian immigrants since this celebration is a reminder of the St. Paulinus, an Italian captive in North Africa who sacrificed himself to free the citizens of Italy during the Vandals’ invasion. The capo and the Giglio lifters also treat this tradition in a special way. Many of them have seen their first celebrations when they were small children and wanted to participate. When they finally got such a possibility, they felt notable and had a feeling that their efforts had a great meaning even despite some pain. Some active members wanted to get a promotion and beco...