The Launching of Burning Disks in Venosta Valley
An archaic tradition in Venosta Valley
A popular custom among aficionados of ancient traditions is the ritual of the launching of burning disks, the so-called Scheibenschlagen, which takes place annually in Venosta Valley. With this archaic tradition, held each year on Septuagesima, the first Sunday before Lent, the inhabitants of the Venosta Valley pay homage to love and fertility and invite spring to reveal its blooming face.
Children and adults – though traditionally only young men – hold whips in their hands, on which are placed round or square wooden disks. These disks are placed inside a bonfire until they glow bright red, and are then thrown into the valley using a special technique and accompanied by the pronouncement of ritual spells and the dedication of good wishes, mostly to one’s beloved. The farther a disk flies through the dark, the more luck it is said to bring to the beloved.
The concluding event of this rite is the burning of the witch, i.e. wooden crosses wrapped in straw up to twelve meters tall which are planted on the hilltops above each village and set ablaze. The burning witches are visible even from far away