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HELICHRYSUM: IT’S HARVESTING TIME!

IT'S HARVESTING TIME IN SARDINIA, A WILD AND AMAZING LAND REGION, HOMELAND OF THE HELICHRYSUM ITALICUM. THIS SMALL FRAGRANT SHRUB IS INDEED A SARDINIAN NATIVE ENDEMIC PLANT FROM THE ORGOSOLO AREA AND IT CAN BE FOUND ALSO ON THE MOUNTAINS OF OLIENA, DORGALI, URZULEI AND SOUTHERN GENNARGENTU.

THE BLOOMING SHRUBS REACH FULL RIPENING AFTER THE THIRD WEEK OF JUNE: THE CUT SYMBOLICALLY STARTS ON THE NIGHT OF JUNE 24, CELEBRATING ST. JOHN, WHEN IN OLIENA WOMEN WEAR THEIR TRADITIONAL CLOTHES WHICH HAVE BEEN EMBROIDERED BY VERY SKILLED TAILORS, GO TO THE WILD HELICHRYSUM FIELDS AND BEGIN HARVESTING BY HAND.

DURING THE SAME NIGHT, THE "FOGARONI" OF SAINT JOHN TAKE PLACE: IT IS AN ANCIENT RITE IN WHICH PEOPLE STRIKED A DEAL OF ETERNAL FRIENDSHIP. HOLDING A ROD OR WOODEN STICK TO THE ENDS, THE “MATE-TO-BE” JUMPED THE FIRE SINGING SONGS OR RHYMES TOGETHER, AND AT THE END OF THE RITE THEY SHOOK THEIR HANDS EXCHANGING WISHES. BECOMING A COMPANION THROUGH THIS PROMISE MEANT, IN THE ANCIENT PEASANT WORLD, TO BE LINKED TO RECIPROCITY, OR PROMISE FAVORS AND AVAILABILITY THROUGH THE EXCHANGE OF GIFTS.

ALSO CALLED "IMMORTELLE", THIS FLOWER IS A PRECIOUS FRIEND OF OUR SKIN, AS ITS ESSENTIAL OIL HAS RENOWNED ANTIOXIDANT AND ANTI-INFLAMMATORY PROPERTIES. OFTEN, ENTIRE FAMILIES ARE INVOLVED IN THIS EXTRAORDINARY ACTIVITY, WHICH BINDS MAN AND ENVIRONMENT THROUGH ANCIENT GESTURES THAT HAVE REMAINED UNCHANGED OVER THE CENTURIES. HELICHRYSUM IS A PROTECTED SPECIES AND GROWS WILDLY EVEN NEXT TO BEACHES, SO IT IS NOT UNUSUAL TO COME ACROSS THE LOCAL POPULATION PICKING UP THE FLOWERS. AN OPEN-AIR GOLD MINE, A GREAT SOURCE OF INCOME THANKS TO THE HIGH DEMAND OF THE COSMETIC-PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY, A GIFT OF NATURE FOR THE EYES AND THE SKIN. BESIDES, FLOWERS CAN ALSO BE USED IN THE KITCHEN, FOR INFUSIONS OR AS POWDER TO FLAVOR VARIOUS DISHES.
THANKS, IMMORTELLE!

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