Cocagna was an early popular amusement hosted by the king for the Neapolitans , originally held on the last four Sundays of Carnival . A pyramid-shaped structure made slippery with fat had to be climbed in order to obtain all sorts of attached food as loot and prize.
“There are various days of the year, especially the Christmas holidays, famous as feasts; then a general Cocagna is celebrated, to which five hundred thousand people have given their say. But then Toledo Street and next to it several streets and squares are decorated in the most appetizing way. The boutiques, where green things are sold, where raisins, melons and figs are put on, delight the eye in the most pleasant way. The food hangs over the streets in garlands; large paternosters of gilded sausages tied with red ribbons; French cocks, all of which have a red flag under their rump. It was assured that thirty thousand of them had been sold without counting those who had fattened the people in the house. In addition to this, a multitude of donkeys, laden with green goods, capons and young lambs, are driven through the town and across the market, and the piles of eggs that one sees here and there are so large that one never feels so many of them thought together. And not enough that all of this is consumed: every year a policeman rides through the city with a trumpeter and proclaims in all squares and crossroads how many thousand oxen, calves, lambs, pigs, etc. the Neapolitan has eaten. The people listen attentively, are immensely happy about the large numbers, and everyone remembers their share of this pleasure with pleasure. "
The festival is possibly due to the common fruit distribution to the people ( congiary ) during the Roman Empire . The French term Pays de Cocagne (for Cockaigne ) derived thereof as well as from the mocking name Cockney .