Mamoiada is located in the heart of the region of Barbagia, one of the least populated areas in Europe. Barbagia is one of the few region where Sardinian language and its internal varieties is still spoken on an everyday basis, while the rest of the island has already undergone shift to Italian.
One of the festivals the people of Mamoiada still hold very dear is that in honor of Sant’Antoni (Saint Anthony the Abbot), which is held on 16-17 January each year originated in remote ancient times as an expiatory rite in favor of the new harvest year. The celebrations begin on the evening of 16 January (sa die de su Pesperu) with the kindling and benediction of the fire outside the parish church. The faithful walk around the fire reciting the Apostles’ Creed three times. Tradition dictates that each section of the town then lights its own fire with an ember taken from the main one in honor of the Saint. The people in every section of the town gather around their large votive fires.
It is during this festival that the Mamuthones and Issohadores appear for the first time during the year.
It’s a moment of great social participation, which is also extended to the foreign visitors staying in every neighborhood and to whom good wine and local sweet products of the season are offered.
However, everyone’s attention is really drawn to what is the symbol of this Carnevale, the Mamuthones and Issohadores who fascinate and involve the crowd with their parading to the tune of their rhythmical “music”. They move spontaneously, without interrupting the composure of their dance. They are the real masters of the Carnevale. The residents of Mamoiada maintain that, «Without the Mamuthones and the Issohadores, there is no Carnevale ».