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Religious celebration in Italian village sees snakes on parade

As part of a traditional May Day religious celebration in the Italian village of Cocullo, located in the Apennine Mountains, on Thursday, dozens of snakes were paraded. There were thirsty non-venomous snakes draped over a statue of Saint Dominic as part of the yearly ritual which celebrates the supposed healing powers of the saint.

The statue was then taken on a parade around a town square which was full of thousands of people, with some of the on-looking people holding up more snakes which were captured during the weeks preceding the rite.

The origins of the Feast of the Snake Catchers can be traced back to pre-Christian history and it celebrates the skills of those who can find the snakes following the snows melting in spring.

The snakes, which are mainly Four-Lined or Green Whip snakes, are fed a diet of live mice and eggs to fatten them up and they are then released back into the wild following the celebrations.

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