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February 13, 2015

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POST-GAZETI'E, FEBRUARY 13, 2015 Page4 L 'Anno Bello: A Year in ltalian FolklOreLovingby Ally Di andcenso Laughingsymynkywicz l  "l v-i l :'- "/''  T'"" as homemade cards to your which means, "farewell to .. __ parents or sharing conver- meat, since it was custom- by Sal Giarratani arily a forbidden food during sation hearts with your best friend. In addition to commemorating all angles of love, St. Valentine's Day also functions as a herald of spring. All of the flowers prominent throughout the festival, from scarlet roses to delicate white snowdrops, remind us of the vegetation that blooms throughout the Earth as spring approaches. In fact, Valentine's Day may have its origins in the ancient Roman feast of Lupercalia, a festival of puri- fication and fertility cel- ebrated on February 15 th. The other origin of St. Valen- tine's Day also stems from Italy -- Saint Valentine, or San Valentino in Italian, per- formed secret weddings after the Roman army forbade its soldiers to marry, thus cementing his reputation as a romantic. Other Valen- tine's Day folklore further emphasizes the connection with spring. A famous super- stition advised unmarried girls to look for the first winged creature seen upon waking, as it offered a clue to the profession of her future spouse -- a bat meant that she would marry a base- ball player, while a robin her- alded a sailor. According to medieval calendars, birds began choosing their mates on February 14 th, a harbin- ger of the rebirth of the natu- ral world to comel Another holiday which for- ever excites me for the upcoming spring is Mardi Gras. Literally translated to "Fat Tuesday" in French, Mardi Gras serves as the last day for riotous feasting and overindulgence before the austere period of Lent begins the next morning, on Ash Wednesday. I remember Mardi Gras parties held at my local church, where we would wear beads and masks in the traditional New Orleans colors of purple, green and yellow, and play a number of crazy games -- the sillier, the better! In truth, Mardi Gras is simply the last day which culmi- nates the whole period of Carnival, the raucous prepa- ration for Lent that begins on the Epiphany. In Italy, this period is known as Carnevale, which some schol- ars speculate derives from the Latin words "came vale"; With all of the snow that blankets the ground like an overstuffed duvet, it is hard to believe that spring is on its way. However, the signs of the approaching season unexpectedly fill the corners and nooks of our world, wait- ing like unwrapped presents for those who search for them. Bathing suits and T-shirts and pastel summer skirts wink at me from the store aisles. The sun remains for a longer time in the sky, spreading its golden light from between the trees in my backyard. And of course, you cannot step into a shop without see- ing walls of red and pink hearts for Valentine's Day. Indeed, I like to call this upcoming week an introduc- tion to spring due to the presence of two spring holi- days within its days. Valen- tine's Day falls on Saturday, February 14 th, and Mardi Gras, the great feast of aban- don that signals the end of the Carnival season, occurs a few days later on the 17 m. Collectively, these holidays celebrate the beginning of spring by emphasizing the love and brightness that will carry us through the cold winter evenings into the days of bright sunshine. The ancient folklore and customs associated with these feasts, from Italy and around the world, honor the unique celebrations that define these holidays while also placing them in the more general category of welcoming spring. Valentine's Day is one of my favorite holidays, because it is a chance to indulge in chocolate and whimsical decorations with- out the high-powered stress of the winter festive season. I always eschew fanciness on St. Valentine's Day, in- stead preferring to focus on homey touches that create a cozy and sweet holiday at- mosphere. I always bake red velvet cupcakes, replete with a scrumptious cream cheese frosting, for this day, and decorate my door with a wooden heart wreath. I not only celebrate with my hus- band, but make sure to pass along Valentine's Day greet- ings to my family and friends as well. For Valen- tine's Day is a holiday hon- oring love in all of its shiv- ering, splendid forms -- by only limiting the celebra- tions to romantic love, we miss out on such activities Lent. The proverb for this season states that ".4 Camevale, ogni scherzo vale," or that every joke is fair game during Carnival! Car- nevale in Italy is known for its gleeful abandon and its age-old celebrations that vary from city to city. In Venice, Carnevale is classy and mysterious, with par- ticipants floating gracefully in famous masks depicting characters from the olden style of Italian theater known as commedia dell'arte. The people of Viareggio in Tus- cany hold a parade with floats poking fun at politicians and celebrities, a throwback to the times when dissent was only permitted through the veil of jest. In the city of lyres, Carnevale is celebrated with a huge orange fight that mimics an event in the town's history! My grand- mother grew up in the coun- tryside of southern Italy, and remembers quaint Carnival festivities where disguised neighbors would travel from house to house entertaining the residents with songs and jokes. She would also bake cenci- deep-fried ribbons of dough also known by appro- priately whimsical names such as bugle (lies) and chiac-chiere (gossip)! Carni- val feasts may have started as spring festivals to chase away the darkness of winter. Indeed, a traditional Mardi Gras food, the pancake, hon- ors the sun with its golden color and round shape. That is why this holiday holds such a special place in my heart. It reminds me that fun and laughter is effective enough to melt even the most stubborn of winters! This week, we have two great opportunities to wel- come spring with joy, love and open hearts. On Those Who Repeat History are Condemned to Repeating it Why is it that in the course of world civilization we often forget what was learned in the past. We seem to have a knack of just repeating bad behavior with bad responses. Today, ISIS isn't just a re- gional threat, but one to the world a threat to peace. The group has set out on a ca- liphate to place all civiliza- tion under Islamic law. They are gobbling up real estate as I write, but their ultimate plans are much more ambi- tious. We have a president who keeps repeating that ISIS is neither Islamic nor a state meanwhile just the opposite is just over the ho- rizon. The enemy is Radical Islam and it isn't an organi- zation, it is in fact, a branch of Islam. This branch is not representing a religion of peace but quite the opposite. The U.S. keeps saying there will be no ground troops, but the airstrikes aren't really working. The latest brutalities found two Japanese prisoners with their heads cut off and a Jor- danian soldier torched to death screaming into God's hands. The Obama White House keeps saying that the airstrikes are working, but ISIS still moves forward in their quest for their caliph- ate. They are not simply a regional threat, but a threat to all civil society across the globe. We can blame President Bush for his focusing on Saddam after 9/11, We can blame Bush for his nation- building. We can blame Bush for lots of things, except the current "war" we are caught up in. The battle against ISIS is here and now and we have a president that won't even identify the en- emy by name. Mr. President, we have an enemy, name it. Like the rest of the world, we watch in horror at the brutality of ISIS and their radical Islamic fanaticism. Blaming Bush isn't going to do any good and neither will blaming Obama. We cannot bring democracy to this part of the world, but we do have a responsibility to make sure that the evil of ISIS is stopped from spreading any further. The United Nations is useless and whether we like it or not, the United States has to step up to the plate rather than do what we unfortunately did back in the 1930's before the Japa- nese attacked Pearl Harbor. We thought Hitler was get- ting contained. It was our battle. In hindsight, we know we should have done more to save the millions mur- dered by the Nazis'. At the moment the War Against Terror is about stop- ping terror, and not about bringing free elections. It is time for both Demo- crats and Republicans, liber- als and conservatives up on Capitol Hill to act rightly. It is time for President Obama to stand up as Commander- in-Chief and stop a world evil before it grows even stronger. We didn't start this fight, they did. It has it's roots on September 11, 2001 and we need to remember that forever. The vast majority of Americans don't like war, but there are times when actions speak louder than non-actions or mere words. St. Valentine's Day, we can give thanks for the love NORTH END00 which has sustained us throughout the dark winter, while staying optimistic about the arrival of spring as PlaNTING  we glance at the flowers and hearts and birds that sur- round us. Meanwhile, we 5 PRINCE STREET NORTH END * BOSTON, MA 02113 can chase away the winter blues on Mardi Gras, letting an eternal spring bloom inside us as we lift our spirits with laughter and a zest for living. There are many small ways to honor these holidays, whether it is exchanging a card with a loved one on Valentine's Day or taking a bite of King Cake on Mardi Gras. What matters the most is that we stay attuned to the wider message of the holi- days, that of accepting both the literal and meta- phorical spring inside us, and welcoming each new, brighter day with unlimited hope, love, optimism, and, of course, laughter. Owned and operated by Pamela Donnaruma, Publisher, Post-Gazette Ally Di Censo Symynkywicz 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. Quality Printing for all your Commercial and Personal Needs Stationery * Business Cards * Menus * Flyers Program Books * Wedding and Party Invitations Announcements * Business Forms and Documents -- COMPETITIVE PRICES -- 617-227-8929 i!! ii  What Happens When You Don't Advertise ? ...... Nothing/ For information on advertising in the Post-Gazette, call 617-227,8929. WWW.B( )STONPOSTGAZETTE.COM