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March 28, 2014     Post-Gazette
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March 28, 2014

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Page4 POST-GAZETTE, MARCH 28, 2014 L'Anno Bello: A Year in Italian Folklore As quickly as it came in, March now departs, as sud- den as the brisk gusts of wind that characterize the month. In its wake, March leaves behind a plethora of robins hopping along newly- green lawns and warmer days that beckon people out- doors with the promise of pale sunShine and gentle breezes. Now, it is time for April, an exciting month that bursts with the fullness of spring, a month brimming -with flowers and delicate rain and many occasions to' celebrate. For example, I will definitely be celebrating on April 6 th, the premiere date of season 4 of Game of Thrones, one of my favorite television shows (Fun fact: In Italian, Game of Thrones is known as/l Trono di Spade, or "The Throne of Swords.") Who knows what recipe, at once ooth medieval and spring-like; I can prepare to honor the show's return? Of course, I also eagerly count down the days until Easter, my supreme springtime holiday, but in truth April provides us with many feast days to honor. What follows is a list of special dates in April, replete with their his- tory and significance, with special attention given to Italian traditions. Here's to a wonderful spring! April Fools" Day (April I): The origins of this holiday, beloved by practical jokers everywhere, are ancient and mysterious, shrouded in the mists of time. Some scholars speculate that April Fools' Day derives from the change of the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar in 1582. Prior to that, many people celebrated New Year's Day on March 25% the Feast of the Annunciation. How- ever, the calendar switch codified New Year's Day as January I st. Possibly, some people would make fun of Welcome April/ by Ally Di Censo Symynkywicz those who still celebrated the New Year in the spring, calling them "fools." In Italy, April Fools' Day is known as pesce d'aprile, or "April Fish." A traditional prank involves taping a paper fish to someone's back without that person noticing. In Italy as in elsewhere, people not only play jokes on family and friends, but the media will often get involved, publish- ing zany and unbelievable stories. Easter (April 20): Ah, Easter. I love everything about this holiday, from its themes of rebirth to its family gatherings to the delicious foods which char- acterize its celebrations. Pasqua,  as it is known in Italian, is a very impor- tant holiday in that coun- tr. People attend Mass at churches decorated with flowers and olive branches, then head home for feasts that include traditional Ital- ian Easter foods like colomba pasqu'ale (a sweet bread shaped like a dove -- some- times it even has colored eggs nestled in it!) or pastiera (a pie filled with wheat ber- ries, sweet rice, or ricotta cheese,-depending on the region). I know that Easter dawns near when my father brings home a large uovo di cioccolato, or chocolate egg, from a little specialty shop in the North End. It is a wonderful metaptior for the prorhise and excitement that Easter holds. Boston Marathon (April 21): Last year's terrorist at- tacks could not cause the city of Boston to cower in fear. Once again this year, people from around the world will show their strength and determination by participat- ing in the event that has become a fierce symbol of our beloved city. The 2014 Boston Marathon will con- tinue the proud tradition of showcasing Boston's in- domitable spirit and pride. Liberation Day (April 25th): On April 25, 1945, the Italian cities of Milan and Turin were liberated from Nazi occupation, precipitat- ing a chain of events that eventually freed Italy from the grasps of fascism. As such, April 25 th is a national holiday in Italy known as Liberation Day, or Festa della Liberazione. Cities and towns across the country celebrate this holiday with processions and speeches My family on both sides lived in Italy dur- ing World War II, and I am proud that there is a holiday that honors the bravery and courage of ordinary Italian citizens whose actions ulti- mately lifted the horrors of Nazism from their land. May Day Eve (April 31): May Day, which falls on May I st, is a feast that cel- ebrates the beginning of summer. Fairies and other magic beings were thought to be especially active on the eve of the holiday. Italian folklore certainly brims with such tales, and the days surrounding Calendimaggio, or May Day, may be full of witches scurrying about! I think it is quaint and origi- nal to pass the end of April with a sense of spookiness and mystery, something we usually associate with Hal- loween, but in reality follows us all year long! April is a month of many different emotions -- laughter and pride, solemn remembrance and joyful excitement over the new spring. Its diverse celebra- tions honor every aspect of the human experience and weave us together with hope and compassion. No matter what you celebrate in April, commit to it with all your heart, for holidays provide us with a human bond and love for our neighbors. 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. Amendment to Boston Rental Housing Inspection Ordinance (Continued from Page 1) waiver for 4-6 family owner- addition, under the proposed occupied buildings where the amendment, the City of Bos- owner is a senior (age 65 or ton is making the commit- older) or has an infirmity or ment to refund registration other circumstances that fees that have been paid, to makes the fee a hardship. In date, by properties that will Boston Harborside Home Joseph A. Langone 580 Commercial St. - Boston, MA 02109 617-536-4110" Augustave M. Sabia, Jr. Trevor Slauenwhite Frederick J. Wobrock Dino C. Manca Courtney A. Fitzgibbons A Service Family Affiliate of AFFS/Service Corporation International 206 WInter St., Fall River, MA 02720 Telephone 508-676-2454 J now fall under this exemp- tion. This is a shift from the ordinance's current form, which requires all owners of rental units to pay annual fees to the InsPectional Ser- vices Department as part of its registration program. There are currently over I08,000 registered units in the City of Boston from over 16,000 different landlords. Of these, approximately 10,000 units would be eligible for a registration fee refund. With the proposed changes to the fee structure, the City of Boston is maintain- ing its commitment to en- suring that residents have a safe and healthy place to live. Boston's proactive rental registration and in- spection program will help the City correct dangerous housing conditions before tragedies strike and address longstanding health prob- lems associated with non- code compliant housing con- ditions such as mold and pest infestations. I I by Sal Giarratani ...... "Lunatic Asylum BIH6": I began my writing career back on March 3, 1968 when my first commentary was pub- lished in the old Boston Sunday Advertiser concerning President Lyndon B. Johnson's handling of the Vietnam War. I've been going strong since. Readers have always been try- ing to peg my ideology and party status for years. At times I con- fuse folks because I think out each stance. I am not an ideo- logue. Sometimes I am pretty conservative. Other times not so much. The older I get, the more diffi- cult it is to differentiate black from white. Our lives, our expe- riences, our fears and our hopes depend on the gray areas of life most of the time. The Nellie Bly Story Elizabeth Cochrane, aka Nellie Bly c. 1890. (Phot by Wikimedia Commons) However, what I have come to appreciate are the cbura- geous actions of others who came before me. People not afraid to stand up for principle, people not afraid of failing and people who maintain a sense of great hope that right will prevail. Over the past 40 or so years, I have worked in the field of mental health in direct care while also being a published writer. I recently came across a short story about someone unknown to me until last week. If you've never heard of Elizabeth Cochrane or "Nellie Bly," you are not alone. I just discovered this historical figure by accident only days ago. Back in 1885 this young woman of 19 responded to an editorial in a Pittsburgh daily newspaper in which women were criticized for taking jobs that were meant for men because everyone, the editorial stated, knew that women's brains were inferior to their male counterparts. She wrote the letter to the editor which was printed and then met with the editor. She would become perhaps the first investigative reporter in U.S. journalism history. Her goal was to prove that she could write and was not one of those "inferior-brained females." Because she was only 19 years old, the editor decided to keep her identity a secret and she used-the pen-name Nellie Bly. She had a drive'n ambition and became a crusading reporter taking on social issues like slumlords and supported the fight for better working conditions in fac- tories where most of the workers were women. She became a star reporter read by many. Two years into the job, she decided to set her sights on the goal of going to work for Joseph Pulitzer's New York World, the largest news- paper in the nation. Pulitzer gave her a chance to prove herself. Her first assignment was to get embedded, as she always did in Pittsburgh in the story she was writing. She found a way to get admitted into an insane asylum to see firsthand how badly the mentally ill were being treated and what they were forced to endure. Two weeks undercover, she saw what she needed to see. Pulitzer gave her two weeks on her own and then sprung her from captivity to write a commentary that was a blockbuster indictment of the care being given to those inside the asylums of New York which then led to more humane mental health treatment. Elizabeth Cochrane, aka Nellie Bly, showed herself and all of society that women were just as smart as men and in her case even better. Furthermore, she showed that any- one - man or woman -- who has a goal must work hard to reach it and all the pain endured to get there is worth it. Dreams can become reality. 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