New Year’s Eve in Gallipoli: the paper mache Puppets

Good and ancient tradition say goodbye to the old year ans welcome the new onw.

New Year’s Eve the paper-mache puppets’ blast is customs and traditions in Gallipoli, you should read this blog-post: we are going to talk about a very old tradition…

“What do you do on New Year’s Eve?” is the most common question in these days, isn’t it?
I always shiver so I don’t want to rub it in. However, today I want to tell you a very popular ancient tradition in Gallipoli: “lu sparu te li pupi”, ergo “The puppets’ blast”

In the last days of the year, the so-called Pupi, papier-mache puppets, are exhibited in almost every quarter of Gallipoli city. The Pupi creation process is an expression of the great manual skill of Salentine artisans: let’s look what they can produce starting from common materials…

The ingredients are very simple: water, flour, newsprint and paint… they can give life to wonderful frameworks, whose particulars are planned down to the last detail: from the one amateur to those professionals, the colours, the chiaroscuro, the shadows, some of them move while some other stare. :)

credits: @fideliterexcubat on FB

The art of papier-mache is very popular in Gallipoli, and it is even appreciated by little kids. The reason I’m saying this is that in these days you can find open door or garage that transform in workshops. It is a good way to be together; the children often follow adults’ steps creating in their quarter little communities of people who share the same passion…

This passion sometimes turns into a real job.

There are even some competitions, in which a panel of judges vote the best work.

If I told you the history of papier-mache art, I would be pretentious, but I try to show you what this tradition means to me.

The Pupi creation starts even some month before in artisans’ houses and garages, and after that, they are built and stuff of fireworks in streets in few hours time: they’re ready for the momentous countdown.

The sense of community connects every participants of the event. Everybody contribute with his efforts.

From the early hours of the 30th of December you can see the Pupi walking in the main streets of Gallipoli. You can also make an open donation to allow the realisation of this peculiar event.


If you want to celebrate New Year’s Day in street, Gallipoli is a particularly suggested choice. Also Gallipoli’s Carnival is a great occasion for building papier-mache floats, but don’t worry, I will talk about it in another blog-post.

The Pupi represent the exasperation and the accumulation of bad things at the end of a period. That’s why at midnight, at the stroke of New Year, they are blown up (the puppets are stuffed of fireworks). Many thunders echo in the city; the bad side is that the more vulnerable don’t understand the meaning of this tradition.

And you, have you ever visited Gallipoli in New Year’s Eve? Did you already know this tradition? Do you like fireworks?


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