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February 10, 2017

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PAGE 4 POST-GAZETTE, FEBRUARY 10, 2017 L'Anno Bello: A Year in Italian Folklore 1 Love is in the Air/ by Ally Di Censo Symynkywicz tino, in much the same way as their American counterparts, bySal Giarratani replete with romantic dinners, February is the month when, despite the snow crunching beneath my feet and the bare branches whipping in the wind, signs of spring seem to blossom all around me, delicate as the first snowdrop. Heavy winter jackets, which still provide us with much-needed warmth, nevertheless get pushed aside in stores to make way for pastel- colored dresses and cheery patterned leggings. The lemons and oranges of winter yield to the first tender artichokes and green peas of the season. These heralds of spring get a big boost from a major seasonal holiday that honors all things floral and sprightly-- St. Valentine's Day, which occurs this year on Tues- day, February 14~. This festival of love and hearts also revels in the sense of renewed life that accompanied spring, evident in its focus on flowers and birds. I love this holiday for the opportunity to snack on deca- dent chocolates and bake up a batch of red velvet cupcakes. However, in the midst of all the pink and red hoopla, I will con- stanfly keep my mind on spring. St. Valentine's Day will remind me that love, in all of its myriad forms, is necessary and natural in order to make the transition from winter into spring. Like most other holidays, St. Valentine's Day remains synonymous with rampant commercialism. As soon as the Christmas festivities end, stores roll out the heart-shaped cards and velvety red boxes of choco- lates, the giant doe-eyed stuffed animals and fresh bouquets of roses. Though I always enjoyed the chocolate, this unchecked commercialism frequently annoyed me back in my single days, as it seemed that the idea of romantic love was constantly being shoved down my unat- tached throat! However, I now realize that the real spirit of St. Valentine's Day includes not only celebrating romantic love, but indeed love in all of its manifestations, including the bond between friends and affection for family members. I also became fascinated by the joint pagan and Christian roots of St. Valentine's Day, which stretch all the way back to our ancestors in Italy. This holidays bears the name of the mysterious St. Valentine, or San Valentino in Italian, about whom many romantic legends arose. One tale claims that St. Valentine secretly performed forbidden marriages for Roman soldiers, while another pro- claims that he fell in love with the blind daughter of his jailer and restored her vision, then addressed himself as her "Val- entine" in a letter written prior to his execution. Meanwhile, some scholars believe that the feast of St. Valentine's Day was inspired by the ancient Roman celebration of Lupercalia, a festival dedicated to purification and fertility. Though there is no evidence of a direct correlation between St. Valentine's Day and Lupercalia, both holidays symbolically indicate that the spring is a ripe time for love and regeneration. Indeed, love across all of nature is inescapable on St. Valentine's Day. A medieval superstition, popularized by author Geoffrey Chaucer, stated that birds chose their mates on St. Valentine's Day, a quaint piece of folklore that recalls not only the romantic overtones of the holiday but also its con- nections to fertility and the rebirth of nature. Other avian- related superstitions stated that the first bird a girl saw on St. Valentine's Day presaged the career of her future spouse -- a robin meant a sailor, a goldfinch meant a millionaire, a bat meant a baseball player, etc. In Italy, people celebrate St. Valentine's Day, or la Festa di San Valen- Owned and operated by Pamela Donnaruma, Publisher, Post-Gazette Public Insurance Adjuster Since 1969 FOR ALL YOUR INSURANCE NEEDS AUTO * HOMEOWNERS " TENANTS COMMERCIAL Experience makes the difference 209 BROADWAY, REVERE, MA 02151 Tel. 781.284.1100 Fax 781.284.2200 Free Parking Adjacent to Building // cards, and-gifts of flowers. The truly love-struck Italians may We Can't Play Follow the Leader, journey to the beautiful city of It is lime for Action Verona, where they will gather under the small, stone Juliet's Joyce Ferriabough Boiling who retired four years ago, the balcony and ponder the fate of had a great Boston Herald best policing is community po- the star-crossed lovers from commentary and it was on the llcing, where the police and the William Shakespeare's famous mark when it comes to gun community both listen to each play. Contemporary lovebirds violence perpetrated by young other and work together. scribble their initials on the people. Like Boiling, I was both The other day after the inci- walls of a tunnel adjacent to pleased and party shocked that dent inside the Bolling Build- the balcony, creating a living visitors to this public building ing, our mayor was reduced testimony to passions past in Roxburyjoined in-house se- to repeating that there are too and present. Meanwhile, the curity and BPS staffto defuse a many guns out there, over and heartsick write their own let- potentially tragic situation. Too over again. The issue isn't guns. ters to Juliet, or Giulietta as often, we have seen how many The issue is rebuilding family she is known in Italy, asking for of us have settled into being life and giving kids alternative to romantic advice. These super- passive bystanders as ff we are drugs, guns and violence. These stitions and folk customs epito- watching a TV show. alternatives must come from mize the intense and capricious As Boiling alluded, no one ex- inside communities under siege power love has over our lives. As pects us to become Dirty Harry, and these alternatives need to such, it is exciting and comfort- Charles Bronson, or Chuck be built inside family life. ingto have a holiday, balanced Norris when violence eruptsIntheend, only we the people, on the equally unpredictable nearby. It may be easy to not get community folk and, most ira- precipice between winter and involved, but then the violence portantly, parents must step spring, devoted to love in all of continues to metastasize, up to the plate and stop feeling its shapes. Communities need to resolvehelpless at bat for fearing of I plan to celebrate this St. Val- to find ways to end the violence striking out. This is not the time entine's Day by eating chocolate on their streets that is killing to walk, but to run. Parents in some manner, most likely in their children. Leaders aredon't have an easy job today the form of the red velvet cup- there, always have been. How- and never had. However, the cakes I make each year for my ever, for too long the urgency more parents act like parents husband. However, I also will has not been widespread. I and less like their kids'friends, express my thanks for all of understand that fear holds the better off both parents and those whom I love in my life -- many back from doing the right children will become. my family, my friends, even my thing. However, fear and denial Families have been in dys- cat! After all, nothing can melt allow for continued cancerous function since the days of the metaphorical winter snows growth. President Johnson. Too many faster than the warmth that Bolling makes several good children have no fathers. This radiates from the laughter and points about engaging our is a fact. Too many children company of loved ones. In fact, schools to help students to un- think running in the streets is we should honor the abundant derstand the reality of deadly the only way to grow, but for love that we can give to others violence. Many demand our po- many it is clearly a wayto stop not only on St. Valentine's Day, o lice to be all things to all people growing, too. We need strong but during every day of the year. and then start yelling at them parenting. We need dads to step As spring slowly inches her way when they do their jobs. forward. Too many dads have into our lives, let us notice -- Forget politicians. They have become invisible in the family and love m the signs of rebirth been helpless for over 50 years structure. plentiful in the nature around now. They march. We march. I hope folks listen to the words us: a crocus bud shyly peeking They chant. We chant. Over that Joyce Ferriabough Bol- out from the snow and dirt, and over again. The issue that ling used in her commentary, the first robin proudly chirping presented itself at the Bruce because she was speaking the from an icy tree, the pale sun- Bolling Municipal Building truth and, like everyone knows, light of a late evening. For just shows just how out of control the truth will set you free. as we recognize the importance things have gotten since myDon't look to preachers, police of love on St. Valentine's Day, teen years growing up in Rox- or teachers to solve this violence so should we recognize this bury, in places like the Orchard issue, look in the mirror. There love reflected in the natural Park projects. Too many expect could be a problem looking back world around us, bright as the our elected officials to do some- at you or maybe a solution. resplendent spring sunshine, thing, but mostly we get empty It was a struggle growing up rhetoric and campaign prom-back in my younger days, but Ally Di Censo Symynkywiczis ises. They have little follow-up somehow I survived, as did so a Graduate Student in History because they know so little of many others. The struggle is at the University of Massachu- the issue, indeed harder today; if you sur- setts Boston. She appreciates As a police officer for 28 years render, you lose. any comments and suggestions about Italian holidays and folk- lore at MANAGERS: Chuck E. Cheese's Great Benefits. No Late-Nights 5 Day w~w, Paid OT Resume to: sglassman 508-436-4081 No 5 PRINCE STREET NORTH END BOSTON, MA 02113 Quality Printing for all your r Commercial and Personal Needs Stationery * Business Cards * Menus * Flyers Program Books * Wedding and Party Invitations Announcements * Business Forms and Documents m COMPETITIVE PRICES m