Discover Corsica culture
Corsica : cultures and traditions
From history, relief and insularity was born the Corsican identity. An agro-pastoral society that took refuge in the mountains. Because of the invasions, the Corsican people developed a culture linked to the land, to the family and its ancestors, as well as to the community (clan, pieve, village). The Catholic religion gives rhythm to the island life (processions, brotherhoods, pilgrimages, festivals...), the hymn of the Corsican nation is a religious song dedicated to the Virgin Mary: the Diu vi Salvi Regin
Essentially oral, the Corsican culture is expressed through song and language.
The Corsican language was originally a Romance language from Latin. During its history, it was influenced by Tuscan and Genoese, then by French which corresponds to the modern era. Coherent as a whole, each micro-region has developed a particular language, with phonetic or lexical variants, especially in the names concerning fauna, flora and pastoral life. The Corsican language is the support of the culture. Vector of oral traditions, it is expressed in song and storytelling : marvellous tales during vigils, lullabies, nursery rhymes, chjama è risponde which are improvised and sung verbal jousts, up to voceru and lamentu accompanying death. Corsican was traditionally the language of everyday life, the administrative language being reserved for the dominant powers. Gradually fading with modernity, the Corsican language experienced a revival in the 1970s. Today it is taught in schools, and its co-official status with French is a strong demand voted in 2013 by the elected members of the Corsican Assembly.
The polyphonic songs, sacred or profane, are emblematic of the Corsican identity. Far from folklore, they are living songs, privileged witnesses of the island's memory and the events of the present. The Paghjelle are at the origin of archaic songs, sung by the shepherds whose poetic texts evoke the events of life. Composed of three voices (the Seconda, the Bassu and the Terza), they accompany social or religious celebrations. Sacred polyphonic songs have always been part of the religious practice of the Corsicans. They punctuate the religious festivals, processions and masses, the best known of which is the Diu vi Salvi Regina. Corsican secular and liturgical paghjella singing has been inscribed since 2009 on the UNESCO List of Intangible Heritage.