The “struscio” of Holy Thursday, its origin.

The term "struscio" in the Neapolitan tradition has always been used to indicate simple walking. But in reality this term in the mid-seventeenth century took on a very special connotation in relation to the Easter holidays; in fact, the great religious fervour of the Neapolitan people, its mass crowds in the city streets to visit the "seven churches" on Holy Thursday, led to the term "struscio" to indicate the sound of rubbing of shoes on the ground, or the clothes of passers-by, as explained by the writer Matilde Serao in her work The Madonna and the Saints:
“It has a musical origin, because it comes from the rustling made by the feet softly moved and the silky skirts of women”
Matilde Serao

The “struscio” of Holy Thursday, Christian and pagan meaning

The popular Neapolitan religiosity has always lived with pagan istances, and the interweaving of sacred and profane certainly does not lack in the Easter holidays: Easter arrives together with spring, in the period of fertility; we will see how the "struscio" of Holy Thursday is strictly related with a well determined numerology that moves precisely between sacred and profane. The rite of Holy Thursday includes the adoration of the Holy Sepulchre of the Dead Christ and the visit by the faithful to at least 7 main churches in his city. The number 7, being a highly sacred number, corresponds by assonance to the 7 degrees of perfection, to the 7 celestial spheres, to the 7 branches of the cosmic tree. But it also has to do with cosmological instances, the number 7 also indicates the 7 major planets of the solar system, and finally indicates human and spiritual renewal. The "struscio" of Holy Thursday, as we have seen, indicated the tour that the Neapolitan people had to make between the seven churches of the city. But not everyone agrees on the exact number of churches to visit, in fact there are also those who claim that the number of 3 churches is more than enough to respect the ritual of Holy Thursday, after all, the same number 3 has a strong religious significance, just think of the trinity, or the body, soul and spirit. One could therefore say that in reality there has never been a single rule for the number of churches to visit during the struscio, the common sense of popular religious sentiment advised in principle a visit never more than 7 churches and never less than 3. The "struscio" of Holy Thursday was an important day for the Neapolitan people throughout the 18th century, not so much for the upper middle class or the aristocracy, but also for the more humble classes, who poured into the city streets wearing their best clothes. In short, for many years, until the 19th century, Easter was an opportunity for the wealthy Neapolitans to show their glitz and wealth and Via Toledo was the preferred stage for this peculiar folkloric show.