Tradition has it that it is a feast in honor of St. Ubaldo Baldassini, bishop and patron of Gubbio, who died in 1160, and it would be the fruit of the transformation of an original offer of wax that the Gugan medieval corporations donated to the patron.
The Ceri are three wooden "machines" crowned by the statues of St. Ubaldo (patron of Gubbio), St. George and St. Anthony the Abbot, vertically grafted onto as many "H" stretchers, which allow it to be carried on the shoulder. ; their weight is about 300 kg. It is not only the weight that makes it difficult to transport them (in fact, run), as the height, speed, the roughness of the route and the changes to the "flight" (called mute) between the carriers in the race.
The bearers of Ceri are called ceraioli and each one belongs to a single candle. This belonging is the result of free choice or is linked to family traditions; traditionally, the coffins of S. Ubaldo are linked to the guilds of masons and stonemasons, to that of S. Giorgio that of merchants, while in S. Antonio the peasants, landowners and students.
The "ceraiolo" uniform consists of a pair of white cotton canvas trousers, a shirt of a different color depending on the cero to which it belongs (yellow for Sant’Ubaldo, blue for San Giorgio and black for Sant’Antonio), a red band tied at the waist like a belt and a red handkerchief resting on the shoulders and pointed in front.
The capodieci are three, one for each candle, carry out the Lift (or inaugurate the race) and are responsible for the good performance of the race of their candle.
With the name capodieci are also called the ceraioli that guide the cero during the race, standing anteriorly between the poles and watching over the change that are given the various "mute" of ceraioli (teams of eight people); then there are the capocinque, who from the back of the stretcher help the capodieci to keep in line the stroke of the candle and to steer in the curves (they are in fact also called sterzaroli). The ceraioli bearers are divided into four points, which carry the candle to the four ends of the stretcher, and the same number of strains, placed more internally.
Traditionally, ceraioli are chosen among the adult males of the families who live in Gubbio; on rare occasions (for example during the wars), women have also been admitted to transporting the Ceri.
For those who do not fall into this category, in the weeks after May 15, two other races are held: that of the Ceri Mezzani and Ceri Piccoli, in which the carriers are chosen among adolescents and children, respectively. On these occasions, obviously, the candles are replaced by lighter scale replicas.
The symbol of the three Ceri is also stylized in the banner and in the official flag of the Umbria Region.
The Festa dei Ceri is held in Gubbio (PG) on May 15th.