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January 23, 2015     Post-Gazette
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January 23, 2015

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Page 4 POST-GAZETrE, JANUARY 23, 2015 L'Anno Bello: A Year in Italian Folklore During the month of January, I really start to notice the sky. Perhaps this is because the sky brims with subtle changes and seasonal premoni- tions throughout the month. For example, as winter slowly melts into spring, the sun remains in the sky for a longer period. Whereas the early evening in December meant skies the color of blackened coal, January eve- nings bring turquoise-hued heavens with clouds rimmed in pink and gold by the set- ting sun. Frosty nights also entail clear skies where every star stands starkly against the night, like a dia- mond resting on velvet. Then, of course, there is the moon. The moon in January has always seemed espe- cially magical, mysterious and alluring-to me, filled with the energy of the New Year and particularly reflective against the snowy ground. As someone born under the zo- diac sign of Cancer, which is ruled by the moon, I suppose it is natural that I feel such a connection with this celes- tial body! As I enjoy the sky in January, I also seek to fred out more about the role of the sky in superstition, folklore and mythology. Italian cul- ture is especially ripe with legends about the denizens of the sky. My fascination with the sky begins in the early morning, when dawn breaks over the Earth. I can practi- cally sense everything start- ing fresh, awakening like a newborn baby from the pri- mordial darkness of the night. From the chatter of the birds -- which grows increasingly ebullient as the morning progresses -- to the pale sunlight breaking through the gray clouds, dawn is the perfect time for greeting the day with opti- mism and anticipation. Our ancestors in Ancient Rome had a goddess of the dawn named Aurora. Every morn- ing, Aurora awakened from the darkness and flew across the sky to signal the arrival of the sun. Aurora also lends herself to another sky- related phenomenon -- the aurora borealis, or the undulating bands of colorful light often seen in polar regions. I have never seen the aurora borealis, but Looking Skyward by Ally Di Censo Symynkywicz which mimicked the shape of her bow. Hecate represented the darker my father and brother did witness a display many years ago when travelling to New Hampshire for a camp- ing trip. Meanwhile, towards the mid-afternoon, the sky changes once again. In Jan- uary, skies often taken the form of blanket-like gray clouds or brilliant sunshine that reflects off the snow like glitter. According to the An- cient Romans once again, this sunlight was the work of Apollo, the god responsible not only for the sun but also knowledge, health, light and music, all things which metaphorically bring "illu- mination" into our lives. Finally, night descends once more upon the land, calling us back to the warmth and shelter of our homes. Ac- cording to olden folklore, nighttime was the realm of spooky supernatural beings. It was better to stay safe and wait for the dawn to ap- proach than to risk an en- counter with one of these ghoulish fiends! The celestial body with which I associate the stron- gest, however, must be the moon. This synergy derives from deep into my childhood, when no road trip was complete without my father singing an Italian pop song which intoned: "La luna, la luna, ti portargt fortuna!" Meaning that "the moon will bring you luck," these lyrics formed the basis of my vision of the moon as a mystical and dreamlike in- fluence. My pride in my wom- anhood also impacts my love for the moon, as she is often depicted as a female deity in mythology. In fact, Roman legends contained at least three moon goddessesl Luna, who lends her name to the Italian word for "moon," was the personification of the heavenly orb. Diana was a fierce and independent huntress often linked artis- tically with a crescent moon, Owned and operated by Pamela Donnaruma, Publisher, Post-Gazette Since 1969 FOR ALL YOUR INSURANCE NEEDS RICHARD SETTIPANE Public Insurance Adjuster Experience makes the difference! 209 BROADWAY, REVERE, MA 02151 Tel. 781.284.1100 Fax 781.284.2200 Boston 617.523.3456 Free Parking Adjacent to Building aspects of the moon, as she presided over the realms of witchcraft, crossroads, and the night. The moon also features prominently in Italian superstition. According to a piece of folklore which is also well-known in the United States, the moon has the power to sway human behavior in a myriad of ways, whether it is awak- ening romance or causing mayhem! In fact, the word "lunacy" derives from "luna. Italians also have their own version of the were- wolf, known as the lupo mannaro, who, like his English and American coun- terparts, becomes active at the full moon. The phases of the moon can also dic- tate the best times for cer- tain events and actions -- a waxing moon, for example, is the ideal cycle under which to plan a wedding, as the couple's happiness will increase just as the moon grows. Indeed, the moon is saddled with so much power and clout over mythology, folklore and culture all around the world. For this reason, whenever I see the sliver of a crescent moon peeking from behind bare tree branches or a resplendent full moon shining her light over a glassy lake, I pause to admire her wisdom and strength. We often take the sky, in all its incarnations, for granted. After all, we always expect it to be over us! How- ever, by never taking the time to admire the sky, we risk missing out on the beauty and the spirituality that nature has to offer. January functions as an es- pecially appropriate month to observe the sky because, with its ever-longer after- noon sunshine and soft golden evenings, it holds the promise of the arrival of spring. Each phase of the sky can impart to us emo- tions and lessons that will latch on to our souls, help- ing us fred an inner strength that will guide us in our everyday lives. The dawn brings rejuvenation, the af- ternoon grants us bolts of energy, and nighttime offers repose. The sun warms the land and boosts the growth of crops, while the moon proves strong enough to in- fluence ocean tides while reminding us of the mystery and magic still left in the world. With spring quickly approaching and life renew- ing itself all around us, let us take a moment from the excitement and extend our faces skyward, giving thanks for all that nature has given us! Ally Di CensoSymynkywicz is a Graduate Student in History at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She appreciates any comments and suggestions about Italian holidays and folklore at adicenso89@gmail, com. by Sal Giarratani This Guy Lou Holtz Nails It~ I read a lot to keep up with the news which can change in a moment's time. but there are some items out there in the news unfortunately that need necessary changes. But all we get is the same old bad news. Recently I found something great on my email from an author by the name of Lou Holtz, who happens to be a retired football coach, sportscaster, author and motivational speaker. His favorite piece of advice, "Life is 10 percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it." Holtz believes America is at a crossroads. There are two Americas. The America that contributes and the America that takes. As Holtz states, "It is not the haves and have- nots, it is the do's and the don'ts. Some support themselves, contribute to society and others that don't. That's the divide in America. I seem to be on the same page as this guy. Forget about income inequality and think civic responsibility. It is about one political party that preaches victimhood as a status symbol in order to win elections. It is about a political party that loves power above country. Today's generation of Democrats preach the politics of greed and envy. Holtz puts it, "The other guy has it, you want it. Obama will take it for you. That is the philosophy that produced Detroit." I grew up in a Catholic and Democratic family back in the '50s and '60s when political parties were about empowering folk, but today the Democrats are all about enslavement, dependence and entitlements. Ability and hope replaced with anger and victimization. We need an America that makes people believe in them- selves and the ability to face our future together as one people. I will be looking for more Lou Holtz's commentaries because this guy makes great sense and I am glad to see that there are many out here in the wilderness speaking truth to power. Our founding fathers would be proud that all is not lost, at least not yet. Government is our business. Either we run it or it runs us. However, every step we make can only be successfully made if we keep our faith and believe in ourselves as our parents and grandparents did before us. We could all use a dose of Lou Holtz on a regular basis before we all sign up for our EBT cards thinking we are entitled to everything from everyone else. We beat the British and now we must not allow ourselves to be swallowed up by helplessness and hopelessness. America is better than that! We need to stand together as one America again. 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