Smithsonian Collections Blog

Highlighting the hidden treasures from over 2 million collections

Collections Search Center

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


This coming Sunday, July 11th, a group of over 100 men will lift a Giglio - a seven-story, four-ton papier-mâché structure - and "dance" it through the streets of the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. It's a spectacle that has been seen in Williamsburg for over 100 years, part of an annual celebration of the Festival of San Paulinus di Nola. The festival has its roots in Nola, Italy, where it originated over 1500 years ago.

The Human Studies Film Archives has three films on the Giglio, including one of the 1923 celebration in Nola, Italy and this home movie footage from 1956, in which members of the Mt. Carmel Club of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Williamsburg dance the Giglio, carrying the structure along with the 12-piece band standing on it.

This amateur film is rich with details about the festival and its participants. It seems likely that the person behind the camera was part of the community, given the access they had and how close they were able to get to the Paranza ("lifters"). Home movies, while originally created only for personal use, are now valuable primary documents for the study of community and family life.

1 comment:

  1. I got to see this event around 1995 in Williamsburg. It's exactly the same!