Pass the snails

No pun intended.

Today is the feast of St. John the Baptist, one of the earliest saints of the Church who sensed the presence of the Lord even as a baby in his mother’s womb.

One tradition of the Church on this feast is the consumption of snails. You may remember my posts on this last year. (Traditions on the feast of the nativity of St. John the Baptist and Romans and the custom of eating snails)

I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why this tradition exists.
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After MUCH digging, I’ve finally found a reason:

San Giovanni: a pagan celebration according to a legend which recalls that the spirit of Salomé, who cut Saint John the Baptist’ head, tormented by her action, gathered witches all around and started their devilish dances and spectacles… The princesses in the houses around were protected by their brooms, and the people of the city started to gather on the hills and eating snails, because their small horns signified conflicts; by eating the snails the people searched for reconciliation and celebrated all together the beginning of a new season, the 24th of June, in this case Summer… Today, the celebration music and chants have become traditional competitions of popular songs…

Very interesting. The eating of the snails–which represented conflict–were thought to diminish the conflicts themselves.

Whatever the reason, eat some snails today if you have access to any. This website offers some cooking instructions:

To prepare the dish: purify the snails for a couple of days in cold water. Some people prefer to add vinegar and salt or flour. Boil the snails for 15 minutes, and then rinse in cold water. Fry the garlic, oil, anchovies and chilli together, add the chopped tomatoes, condense the sauce and add the snails, leaving them to cook for just under an hour. 10 minutes before the end of cooking add some mint leaves and a pinch of pepper.