If I were to make a bold statement, it might be that Sardinia has some of the most striking and spiritually meaningful festivals in the world.
Sa Sartiglia is famous for the activity you see to the right (click to see it larger). At full gallop, an elaborately costumed rider tries to lance a star with a small hole through its center. You might think this competition is all there is, a colorful reenactment of some medieval weirdness. By the way, the rider doesn’t practice this act; it’s all cold turkey at the event.
But there’s more. Besides the carnival atmosphere that comes to the town of Oristano, there is the dressing of the head of the guild putting on the competition called Su Componidori. It takes “virgins” an hour to dress him and sew him into his costume. Then he takes the mask that makes him into a sort of demigod.
While I attended Sa Sartiglia 2011, I took some video “footage” which I strung together to give you a glimpse of the proceedings. I hope it comes close to explaining some things. Of course, to an outsider it’s just an interesting competition, but to many residents, it’s a day full of meaning; how the competition plays out determines what one might expect of the rest of the year.