The Witches of Benevento

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In October around Harvest, there is a local Halloween celebration near Naples in a place called Benevento. The witches and spirits emerge to gather by the sacred Walnut Tree and pay homage by dancing and partaking in shots of the famous and potent inebriating beverage, called Strega (witch). Benevento is in the hills about 30 miles (50 km) northeast of Naples. It is the capital city of the province of the same name in the Campania region of Italy and founded by Diomedes after the Trojan War.

In Italian lore and literature dealing with witchcraft, Benevento and the sacred Walnut Tree are in the same class as the Brocken in the Harz mountains in Germany, where northern witches gather on the night of April 30, Walpurgisnacht. The Benevento gathering is often called in Italian folklore the tregenda, a word that may derive from an old plural form of trecento (three hundred) used to mean any large number. Today, it is used only to mean the gathering of witches at propitious times of the year, typically the winter and summer solstice and vernal equinox.


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