Nice: the Santa Capelina

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On the 1st of May, the Santa Capelina is celebrated on the most photographed spot in Nice, the Rauba Capeu. The event gathers, around a fish-soup and a cortège, people wearing hand-made hats. This year the Santa, who is also built by some of the participants, was made of branches and flowers, and its head of papier-mâché. The fish soup is cooked on the spot. Each participant brings his/her own fish, so to contribute to the dish and to highlight the collective and shared aspects of this festive event. Music and songs – invented especially for the occurrence – accompany the entire celebration, from the hours waited for the soup to be ready, to the parade throughout the narrow streets of the old town. When the défilé ends up on the beach in the late afternoon, a small group of people accompanies the Santa among the waves, to let her be carried by the water flows. She should be hauled away off the coast, so that the wishes of the people she is bearing could come true. And although she will return to the beach, the celebration will not have loose its cornerstone: bringing people together fortifying old relations or building new ones, reappropriating festive events and public spaces (e.g. the Rauba Capeu and the old town, crawling with tourists especially during the summer months) and providing a sense of empowerment for some of the people involved (e.g. in terms of participation, inclusion and presence into the city).

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