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Unit 2 Festivals and Celebrations (Grade 10) Reading I

 Unit 2 Festivals and Celebrations

Getting started

Reading I (page 18)

Battle of the Oranges

All I can see is a flash of orange, then I am hit in the chest. It knocks my breath away. I slide backwards, fall bum-first in a pile of orange mush. What the heck? I touch my head: my red hat is still there.


During Carnival, official public notices are plastered on the walls around Ivrea, ordering people, especially tourists, to wear a red hat. Or else they can be considered a ‘fair target for gentle and moderate orange-throwing’.


The red hat people are ordered to wear is not just any hat. The berretto frigio, a sock-shaped hat sold on every street corner, is the symbol of the carnival itself. It is a symbol of freedom; worn in Roman times by freed slaves, during the Middle Ages it was on the heads of peasants rioting against feudal lords.


Back on my feet, I make sure my hat is on, and visible. I want to get another look, but soon I am hit again. On my forehead. My head jerks back, I wipe my face, oh my goodness, it’s blood! I am going to need stitches, maybe it’s a concussion?


Then I remember blood oranges.


Shivering from the quick succession of shock and relief, I retreat to the back of the square, away from any flying fruit. This is the first of three yearly battles; everybody is fresh and excited from a year-long wait. Nine teams of aranceri (orange-throwers) on foot, wearing uniforms, hurl oranges at their opponents on horse-drawn carriages, clad in Doctor Whoesque costumes with padded shoulders and leather-covered cylindrical helmets. An hour into the battle, the square is covered in a thick sludge, mixture of orange pulp and horse manure. It smells sharp, sweet-and-sour.


Aranceri on foot rush back and forth, to the sides of the square stacked with orange crates, filling their shoulder bags and baggy tops. As soon as a cart approaches, they charge, bombarding it with oranges. Horses halt, for a few minutes; oranges explode, then the cart takes off again, the aranceri chase it for a while, hurling the last of their supplies. They wear no protection, and walk around with their hair caked in orange bits, juice running down their faces. Some have broken noses, some clutch a side of their face, arms or ribs. They held their heads high, shouting their team’s war cries.


“This is the moment we wait for all year” says Silvia, holding an orange cut in half on her right eye. “I’ll be happy to have a black eye tomorrow.”


She sits with me, sipping a glass of mulled wine. “I think carnival is good for our psychological health. During these three days I can let it all out, all the frustrations I have built up during the year. After I feel refreshed. Of course, accidents happen” she adds, pushing the orange on her swollen eye. “But you should try, it’s good for you”.

I am curious to know what it feels, I admit. I keep thinking I am wearing a hat, and the public not supposed to join in the battle. Even so, that doesn’t seem to stop hat-wearers from throwing the occasional orange. To prevent further trouble, volunteers advise the public to stay behind protective nets.


“Forget the nets” says Massi, an arancere of the Morte team, with a gigantic skull on the back of his orange-stained uniform. “If you want to live the carnival, you have to be in the middle of the battle.”


“Aren’t you afraid of getting hurt?”


Massi laughs. “If you compare the risk to the rush you get, a black eye is a small price to pay.”


He fills his top with oranges. A cart is approaching. “Come on, throw your red hat away and come with me”.


I am tempted, but I decline.


A. Match the words with their meanings:

a. mush           i. to throw to throw something violently in a particular direction

b. jerk             ii. to hold something tightly

c. concussion iii. a soft thick mass or mixture

d. hurl             iv. to drink something, taking a very small amount each time

e. pulp            v. to make something move with a sudden short sharp movement

f. clutch          vi. a temporary loss of consciousness

g. sip               vii. the soft part inside the fruits and vegetables


a. mush          iii. a soft thick mass of mixture

b. jerk            v. to make something move with a sudden short sharp movement

c. concussion vi. a temporary loss of consciousness

d. hurl            i. to throw something violently in a particular direction

e. pulp            vii. the soft part inside the fruits and vegetables

f. clutch         ii. to hold something tightly

g. sip              iv. to drink something, taking a very small amount each time


B. Write True' for true statements and False for false ones. 

a. The tourists are informed to wear a red hat through public notices.

b. Aranceri seem dressed in Doctor Whoesque costumes.

c. When a cart approaches, aranceri run away from the square.

d. The narrator feels bored during the festival period.

e. The volunteers encourage the visitors to join the battle.

f. The narrator accepts Massi's offer.


a. True

b. True

c. False

d. False

e. False

f. False


C. Answer the following questions.

a. What does the red hat symbolize?

b. How does the narrator feel when she wipes her face?

c. What does the square look like after an hour-battle of the oranges?

d. How do aranceri members chase the cart?

e. Does Silvia enjoy this carnival? Why?

f. Why does Massi say, "Forget the nets"?


a. The red hat symbolizes the carnival itself and also represents freedom, as it was historically worn by slaves who had been freed and by peasants fighting against feudal lords during the Middle Ages.

b. The narrator feels shocked and worried when she wipes her face.

c. After an hour-battle of the oranges, the square is coated in a thick coating of orange pulp and horse excrement after an hour-long fight of the oranges, producing a dirty and sloppy scene.

d. The aranceri members chase the cart by running after it and throwing oranges at it.

e. Yes, she does. She claims that kids look forward to this time all year long and that carnival is good for their psychological health.

f. Massi says "Forget the nets" because he believes that if people want to truly experience the carnival, they need to be in the middle of the battle.



For next part CLICK HERE.

For unit one CLICK HERE.

For unit three CLICK HERE.

For Grade 6 CLICK HERE.

For Grade 7 CLICK HERE.

For Grade 8 CLICK HERE.

For Grade 9 CLICK HERE.

For Grade 10 CLICK HERE.

For Grade 11 CLICK HERE.

For Grade 12 CLICK HERE.

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