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One of the festival’s most delightful qualities is its entirely noncommercial nature. It is based on an act of public generosity, and this generosity is preserved as the spectacle is made available freely to all, and tons of carefully hand-made cucciddati bread and small sacks of nuts, chickpeas, and candy are liberally tossed to the on-looking crowds that can top more than one-hundred-thousand - an amazing sight in the narrow streets of this town that many admit now has fewer than five-thousand full-time residents (although the official population is put around twice that number). Even the necessary remote parking and shuttle buses are free. The only profits made are by a few food sellers and itinerant vendors. But, in Sicilian culture, generosity can be closely related to one-upmanship, and there is an undeniable aspect of competitiveness and superiority that accompanies the festival. Nevertheless, holding the festival is a major stretch for the town, with its diminished population and struggling economy. Hundreds of thousands of Euros must be raised and thousands of hours of unpaid work dedicated to the preparations - ranging from procuring and training giant oxen of a type no longer found in Sicily to painting floats, from rehearsing music and dance to packing the little sacks of confetti - and to the myriad activities during the three-day festival itself. For this reason, the time span between festivals has stretched from what was traditionally three years, first to five years and now to seven or eight. (This may also be a concession to modern life, having allowed the festival’s main day to fall on a weekend). At the conclusion of each great festival of the Santissimo Crocifisso, given today’s realities, no one can say with absolutely certainty that there will ever be another.

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