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February 24, 2017

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PAGE 4 POST-GAZETrE, FEBRUARY 24, 2017 L'Anno Bello: A Year in Italian Folklore Magical and Mischievous Carnival by Ally Di Censo Symynkywicz Lately, I appear to have acquired a massive bout of spring fever. That has to be the reason why I insist on wearing brightly patterned leggings every day, admiring the way they s.hine against the newly fallen snow of the last blizzard. What else but spring fever can explain the desire to open my classroom windows, lettirlg in the earthy scent of fresh soil waft through the air on the first fifty-degree day in a long while? Certainly, spring fever must be behind my recent quirky tendencies towards the absurd~ such as my proclivity to add extra goat cheese to a goat cheese pizza, or order a green tea latte from Starbucks in order to admire its perfect hue. Yes, the anticipation of spring drives me towards acts of whimsy, and I am sure that I am hardly the only one affected by this excitement, as I feel the world pulsating with change. The evening sun glows brighter, robins hop in the bushes, and the drip of melting snow sounds like the second hand on nature's clock, denoting each turn of the season. This is one of the most exhilarating times of the year, humming with transition and liminality. Not surprisingly, folk holidays latch on to this thrilling sensation, celebrating the joyous leap from winter to spring. The most magical and spontaneous of these festivals is Carnival, the feast of masks and indulgence that precedes somber Lent. With its myriad of rustic customs and tradi- tional foods, Carnival practices in Italy and around the world herald the joyous arrival of spring with tomfoolery and magic galore. Except for the celebrations in New Orleans, Carnival is not as well known in the United States as it in Europe, a fact which often baffles me. Carnival overlaps with the vibrant onset of spring, a period whose hope and promise practically encourage the revelry of street dancing and fanciful masquerades. The very name of Carnival conjures imagery of indulgence and decadence. Many scholars theorize that the word "Carnival" derives from the Latin term came vale, or Vgoodbye to meat," a reference to the extravagant consumption of foods that would later be forbidden during austere Lent. The Christian significance of pre-Lent combined with old paganrites devoted to chasing away winter and welcoming in spring in order to create the festivities we know as Carnival. The masks and costumes that characterize the holiday may originate in the disguises worn by the ancient Europeans in order to scare off the winter demons. Similarly, cultures throughout the world emphasize golden fried pastries as traditional Carnival food, from the jelly donuts popular in Germany and Poland to the pancakes eaten in Great Britain. These delectable treats not only served as a way to use up butter and eggs, which were prohibited during Lent in olden times, but they also resemble the spring sun with their sunny color and round shape. Classic Italian Carnival desserts include cenci, or strips of fried dough that also go by whimsical monikers such as ckiacchiere (gossip) and bug/e (lies). These treats remind me of windy, brisk late winter days when I would cook up a batch with my grandmother, then watch her sprinkle powdered sugar over the cenci. Delicious! Along with food, Carnival famously boasts energetic parties, feasts, and folkloric events. These celebrations kick- off the Carnival season on the 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 holiday of the Epiphany, which occurs on January 6th, and comes to a frenzied culmination on Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, the last day before the begin- ning of Lent on Ash Wednesday. This year, Mardi Gras falls on February 28% Around that day, expect to see the traditional colors of Carnival everywhere: green for faith, purple for jus- tice, and gold for power. These hues brighten the ubiquitous beads and masks emblematic of Carnival, adding an aura of playfulness and mystery to the air. In Italy, Carnival festivi- ties, though extremely diverse across the country, all take on a primeval, raucous tone. The most renowned of such celebrations is the Camevale di Venezia, or Venetian Carnival. Participants in this feast wear elegant 18~-century costumes and sport masks like the ones that once adorned the actors of the Italian commedia dell'arte -- a type of improvised perfor- mance where character arche- types each boasted their own mask. The Camevale di Venezia has become s ach a symbol of this mysterious city that visitors will now find the eerie, beautiful masks on display year-round. Other famous Italian Carnivals take place in Acireale, Sicily and Viareggio, Tuscany, where gigantic floats satirize local events and politicians. These floats hearken back to the topsy-turvy nature of Carnival, since in olden times dissent was only permitted in the form of satire and slapstick unleashed once a year. The northern Italian city of Ivrea recreates a historic battle every Carnival with oranges, em- phasizing the absurdity of the season. Indeed, no matter how Italy celebrates Carnival, it is always imbued with glee and mischievous abandon. Whenever I think of Carnival, I always think of the fact that these very sensations of glee and mischievous abandon are often missing from our everyday lives. We need to embrace laughing so hard that tears stream from our eyes, or turning the volume up on our favorite song and dancing around. Carnival reminds us that it is okay to be silly, and furthermore, that it is healthy to indulge in our funny side in order to bring levity to stressful or monotonous situations. Perhaps Carnival is not widely celebrated in the United States because we are much too serious. We should lighten up and enjoy the beauties and wonders of life! Let us follow the example of Carnival and temporarily revel in lighthearted extravagance, rampant silliness, and delicious decadence. Our laughter will ignite our optimism and in- spire us to share our joy with others. This Carnival let us get swept up in the magic and mystery of the season, leading the way to a warm, shining spring[ 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. .~- -~ ~I-[-~,~CF~ ,,- by Sal Giarratani AMERICA: Where is it Going with Such Discord? Since the election on Novem- ber 8a, and January 20% when Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, our nation has been anything but united. I have seen a tearing at the seam of our very American society. Always and forever, America stands for something special. Our government was an ex- periment when our founders created it. We are a democratic republic where power is in the people, and not those who rule. It was an aberration in the 18t" century, and sadly remains so today. Yes, many of the ideals found in our Bill of Rights and the Declaration of lndependence were quite lofty ideas and sadly not even honored by those who penned and signed on to those ideals. Personally, I think America has been divided long before Trump came along, but his surprise election shocked many who never saw it coming. Every- one is so angry today that civil conversations are difficult to even entertain. Texas happens to be my home away from home. I am down there every summer, and love the state and the feeling I get of a society I once knew up here. I have been to the State Capital and on the grounds of the State Capitol Building where I often stop by and reflect at the site of the 10 Commandments memo- rial tablet, and at the site of the Monument to the Confederate Dead. I can understand Texas Pride, and I have never looked at the Civil War as anything but a nasty in-house fight between family. The division back then led to an all-out war. Today's division resembles far too much how America felt over 150 years ago. Then it was between North and South, today between Left and Right. Great divides sepa- rating one from the other only serve to build a wall between neighbors. We are Americans, with more that unites us then divides us. As that old song went, "Show me the way. Show us the way." That Texas celebrates Gen. Robert E. Lee rather than Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., seems hurtful to me. We are one na- tion and have one set of national holidays. If Texas wishes to honor Lee, which is its right, do so on another day. The schizophrenia that the banners see today is not about two different America's. As a former DMH police officer, America today is both bipolar and schizophrenia. We are in- deed divided, but we are also all seemingly unaware of what America, all of it should stand for. We need to make America "One Again," not just as a people, but also in our ideals. Purchase a copy of My T )ht FOR OLD FASHION ITALIAN MEATLESS MEALS FOR THE LENTEN SEASON Celebrate St. Joseph's Day with warm, comfort foods from my cookbook "Recipes my Nonna Taught Me." Includes several meatless recipes for Lent including Lentil soup. No cheese is eaten on St. Joseph's Day to remind us that Italians were too poor to have cheese. Pasta is spnnkled with bread crumbs which is a reminder of the sawdust of St. Joseph the Carpenter. LENTIL SOUP V2 pound washed lentils 1 medium chopped onion 1 clove minced garlic 1 - 15 ounce can tomatoes with juice Salt and pepper to taste Teaspoon basil, bay leaf Endive, escarole, or spinach 14 pound angel hair pasta, broken into small pieces, orzo, or ancini de pepe Combine ingredients except pasta in large pan and add quart of water, cook until lentils are tender about an hour Add pasta and cook until pasta is al dente. Just before serving add: olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese on top of each bowl. 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