Snakes slither over May Day celebrations

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The Feast of the Snake Catchers traces its origins back to pre-Christian history. Photo: Tiziani Fabi/AFP
09:16 CEST+02:00
Dozens of snakes were paraded during a traditional May Day religious celebration in the Italian village of Cocullo in the Apennine Mountains on Thursday.

Thirty non-venomous snakes were draped onto a statue of Saint Dominic in the yearly ritual to celebrate the saint's supposed healing powers.

The statue was then paraded around a town square packed with thousands of people, where some held up more snakes captured in the weeks preceding the rite.

The Feast of the Snake Catchers traces its origins back to pre-Christian history and celebrates the skill of those who can find the snakes after the snows melt in spring.

The reptiles - mostly Four-Lined or Green Whip snakes - are fattened up with a diet of live mice and eggs and are then released back into the wild after the celebration.

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