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February 28, 2014

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Page 4 POST-GAZETTE, FEBRUARY 28, 2014 L'Anno Bello: A Year in Italian Folklore / I Can I Carnival, Please? - by Ally Di Censo Symynkywicz Lately, it seems as if Christian significance corn- masks on display all year everyone around me is par- bined with pagan festivities long. Other famous Italian ticipating in some sort of exuberant jailbreak. How else can I explain my insis- tence on wearing the bright- est pink-and-purple shirt I own on the first fifty-degree day we had in weeks? Or the impromptu film festival I had with my best friend where we decided to follow Star Trek Into Darkness with an episode of Ghost Adven- tures and then Downton Abbey ... but not before impulsively luxuriating on a green tea Frappuccino from Starbucks? How about today's sudden desire to belt out every word of Katy Perry's "Hot and Cold" -- a song typi- cally not on my indic-rock repertoire -- in the car, much to my husband's hor- ror? I blame spring fever for these outbursts of whimsy, and I can indeed feel the world pulsing with change as the winter snow melts away into delicate green fields. The evening skies look brighter, roads bustle with people aching to escape the con- fines of their home, and every day I count more robins hopping around on the lawn. This is an extremely exciting part of the year, when the promise of spring is so palpable one can taste it, minty and lovely, on the tip of the tongue. During this time, every- thing hums with a new energy, waiting to start again. Appropriately, this is the Carnival season, that pre-Lenten time of indul- gence and celebration that welcomes spring with the right amount of tomfoolery. With exception of New Orleans, Carnival is not a well-known holiday in the United States, a fact that has always puzzled me. Car- nival coincides with the arrival of springtime, a period full of such hope and excitement that it seems tailor-made for dancing in the streets and wearing mys- terious disguises. Even the name of this holiday hints at its decadent history. Accord- ing to some scholars, the word "Carnival" derives from the Latin expression carne vale, or "goodbye to meat," referring to the moments of extravagant self-indulgence before food restrictions were imposed during Lent. This that sought to chase away the spirits of winter and welcome in spring. Hence the predilection for golden, fried pastries in many parts of the world during Carnival, such as the jelly donuts popular in Germany and Poland and the pancakes of Great Britain -- these treats not only used up the butter and fat that in olden times was prohibited during Lent, but also resembled the spring sun with their round shape and yellow hue. In Italy, the preferred desserts dur- ing the Carnival season are cenci, or fried strips of dough also known by such whimsical monikers as bugie (lies) or chiacchere (chatter). These little delicacies always remind me of brisk, early spring days in my grand- mother's kitchen, when I would excitedly wait for her to finish them with a dust- ing of powdered sugar. Yum! In addition to food, Carni- val is known for its exu- berant feasts and parties, which ope n the festive sea- son on the holiday of the Epiphany, January 6 th. The events come to a lively cul- mination on Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, the last day before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (this year, Mardi Gras occurs on March 4th). The traditional colors of Carnival are gold, green and purple, signifying power, faith and justice, respec- tively. These colors adorn the plentiful beads and masks that symbolize Carnival, add- ing to the thrilling feeling of surprise, spontaneity and mystery. Italy is a land where Carnival festivities, in all their multifaceted and diverse incarnations, reign supreme. The most famous Carnival manifestation in Italy definitely belongs to Venice, or il Carnavale di Venezia. This ancient feast features people dressing up in costumes of the 18  cen- tury and wearing masks that once graced the actors of Italian commedia dell' arte -- a type of improvised perfor- mance where each broadly archetypal character sported a corresponding mask. The Carnevale di Venezia has become such an icon of the city that visitors to Venice will find the eerie, mystical Richard 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 Carnival celebrations occur in Acireale, Sicily and Viareggio, Tuscany, where elaborate floats poke fun at local events and politics. These floats are a reminder of the olden times when dissent was only permitted through sublime satire and whimsy, unleashed full-blast at only one time of the year. In the northern Italian city of Ivrea, Carnival is celebrated with an orange battle, a citrusy recreation of the town's revolutionary past. No matter what sorts of celebrations ensue, Ital- ian Carnivals wholeheart- edly embrace joy and abandon. Indeed, I believe that these very traits of joy and aban- don are what is missing from our everyday lives. When was the last time that you laughed so loudly that tears poured from your eyes or spun around in the rain? Carnival celebrations remind us that it is not only okay to indulge in our silly side, but that it is healthy to do so in order to combat the stress and the monotony that latched on to us throughout the winter. I see the lack of attention that Carnival receives in our society as a warning sign that we are much too serious -- it is time to loosen up and embrace the wonders of life! Following the example of Carnival and letting ourselves be tem- porarily swayed by indul- gences and extravagance, silliness and laughter, en- riches our optimism and helps us become better people by instilling in us a joy that simply must be shared with others. This Carnival season, let yourself be carried away by whimsy, into a warm spring full of laughter and fun. 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. r 7 F" CASH In Your Gold I I I 781-286-CASH I I -- EXTRA SPENDING MONEY-- I I I Coui Here For information about advertising in the Post-Gazette, call 617-227-8929, I Am the Mainstream Media With the news that the F.C.C. is seriously considering the idea of placing federal monitors inside the news rooms of TV and radio broadcasting stations to make sure they are following F.C.C. guidelines, I am shocked that the so-called mainstream media outlets like NBC, CBS, ABC, NPR, PBS, etc aren't even reporting on this news story gain- ing traction on conservative talk radio and places like the Fox News Network. Thank God for them and newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and Investors Business Daily who are beacons of information for the American people. As someone who believes strongly in the Bill of Rights and supports America remaining a constitutional- based democratic republic, I continue to be nervous about the condition of our Republic increasingly under fire by an alphabet of agencies (NSA, FCC, TSA, HLS) who seem at times hell-bent on weakening our individual liberties and eco- nomic freedom. What has happened to our constitutional safeguards? Where did our firewall against government encroachment of our endowed rights by the Creator go? It appears that Democrats on Capitol Hill and the Republican Ruling Class are all in bed together. I have always had a general dis- trust of government power and more so right now under President Barack You-Know-His-Name Obama. Haven't Americans always believed that we are the gov- ernment in this Republic? Didn't Ben Franklin warn us over 200 years ago that we have a Republic if we can keep it? James Madison in the Federalist Papers #51 said that if we were angels we wouldn't need government, but that government is a necessary evil to be kept in check by us humans as best we can. America was to be a nation of laws but today the law and the Constitution are being assaulted almost on a daily basis by men holding political play books. Getting back to how to define the mainstream media. Is it the print and broadcast media that totes the Obama Party Line? Is it a president who wants to insert himself between the Constitution and the people by Executive Ordered Government? Liberals always bash conservatives on executive orders. They say presidents often use them to get things done quickly. It is one thing to name a new Post Office building but quite another to change a law 24 times on your own without Congressional authority. The fact that Harry Reid and John Boehner remain mute allowing what seemingly is an unconstitutional end run around the Congress, doesn't legalize his actions. The so-called mainstream media is no different than PBS or NPR. There is a big difference between a free media and government media. Communist Cuba, China and North Korea all think they have a free people's media. In those states, the media is only as free as government allows them to be. They report the news the government wants the people to hear. Nothing more, nothing less. Putting FCC monitors inside TV and radio stations can only stifle a free flow of information. How free can a broad- cast media outlet be if the FCC which controls their license now sits next to them in the news rooms of America's so- called mainstream media? How chilling to think that there might be a FCC monitor sitting next to Mark Levin, Howie Carr, Jeff Kunhner or Michael Graham while these radio hosts are on the air? If we didn't have conservative talk radio, how would we really know what was going on all around us. I want free radio, not talk radio hosts who collect government checks. Fifty years ago, I was a Johnson-Humphrey Democrat as was my father. The liberal press went after his Republican foe Barry Goldwater as if he were a terrorist extremist. Goldwater during the campaign stated, "Extremism in the name of liberty was not vice, nor moderation a virtue." I thought Goldwater was a crazy right wing extremist but looking back from here now, I think he looks more correct by the day. The Bill of Rights appears under attack today from government itself. As a retired police officer, I see all this internal spying on Americans a clear violation of the 4 th Amendment which safeguards each of us from illegal searches and seizures. It is like George Orwell's "1984" not just brought to the Big Screen but to our very real lives. A friend of mine recently joked, "Someday, the government will plant cameras inside our TV and computer screens to constantly monitor us." I smiled and replied, "How do you know they aren't already doing that?" in response none of us were laughing. The sad state of our lives as free Ameri- cans today. We can't always trust our own government to tell us the truth. I have a better chance of standing by for help at CVS Pharmacy self-serve register than we have waiting for our government to help us. God Bless America. We need lots of His blessings today. WWW.BOSTONPOSTGAZETTE.COM