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April 12, 2013     Post-Gazette
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POST-GAZETTE, APRIL 12, 2013 .is00astweeken.,I..l- keep,n00,o00t.atltal,ao ,,irds-Mygran,mot.era00- , ebrated my wedding shower culture begs to differ. An- quires a very ominous voice | ___ along with my fianc6. There cient Romans celebrated when she talks about birds, L by Sal Giarratani were many wonderful as- pects I loved about the shower: the reunion of fam- ily and friends, a delicious strawberry cake, peals of laughter resounding through the room. However, in the midst of this joyous festivity, I was reminded that Italian weddings often carry a sin- ister side, enveloped in the world of superstition. Be- cause marriage involves such a monumental life change, Italian society as- cribes a number of supersti- tions, to weddings, born of natural anxieties and the universal desire to prescribe good luck to the new couple. Some of my family members still hand out confetti, or sug- ared almonds, as favors at showers and weddings. Sup- posedly, when wrapped in groups of five, they bestow fertility, health, longevity, happiness and wealth to the newlyweds. However, the confetti is merely a portion of the rich tapestry of Italian superstitions. I love learning about superstitions because they are reminders of the values held dear by ancient societ- ies. The superstitions that survived to this day tap deep into the fears and desires of the human subconscious: worries over our mortality, longing for a good harvest, a need for control in an unpre dictable world. Gathered be- low are some Italian super- stitions repeated in my fam- ily, most from my grand- mother. If you think that spring proves an odd time to talk about something as creepy as superstitions, many festivals honoring the dead during spring. Odd, per- haps, but in the harsh world of antiquity death was an ever-present companion -- along with primal emotions of joy and hope. So get ready to dive into the spooky side of Italian folklore: The number 17 is bad luck: This is an often re- peated nugget from my grandmother. In the United States, Friday the 13 th serves as the quintessential bad-luck day. In Italy, it is the 17 a of the month. I am not sure why this is so, but author Mirella Sichirollo Patzer theorizes that this is because the Roman nu- meral for 17, XVII, can be rearranged to spell VIXI, a Latin word meaning "he lived" that is found carved in many ancient tombstones. Malocchio: This trans- lates to "evil eye" and is an extremely popular supersti- tion not only in Italy, but in the entire Mediterranean world. Supposedly, looking at a person with jealousy or anger is enough to trigger a mountain of bad luck upon them. As such, Italians de- vised a plethora of charms to ward away malocchio. One of them is the corno, a horn- shaped amulet found every- where ranging from neck- laces to home decorations, usually colored red (true story: when I was little, I thought these were supposed to represent chili peppers). There are many contrasting theories as to how this amu- let came to be, so I would appreciate hearing readers' family stories! as they are generally har- bingers of bad luck in Italy. A bird flying into the house is a death omen, perhaps because ancients viewed birds as being closer to the world of the dead due to their ability to fly. My grand- mother mostly fears owls, which Italians also consider a death omen as a result to their intense stare and eerie cry. Conversely, however, owls also represent wisdom and knowledge. Salt: Many readers will probably be familiar with the idea that spilling salt is bad luck, since this is a super- stition that has reached all corners of the globe. It is also quite popular in Italy, and my grandmother swears by it. This superstition origi- nates from the fact that salt was a very precious com- modity in ancient times, and thus spilling it could really result in financial bad luck. Also related to the "pre- cious eommodity" line of superstitions are the Italian beliefs that it is bad luck to spill olive oil or throw away bread. Okay, L'Anno Bello readers, I now have a challenge for you. Since I am so inter- ested in the fascinating world of Italian supersti- tions, I would really appreci- ate it if you could send me other omens and tidbits of lore passed down through your families. If I collect enough, I will publish them in a later edition of L'Anno Bello. Until then, watch your salt shakers and mind your eyesI Ally Di Censo 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. RUFF FUNDRAISER[[! April 20 th Improv Asylum show! 4:00 pmI!! Half of all / [ ( _ proceeds generated at this event go to RUFF. \\;   Help us meet our fundraising goals. This "T    money helps us clean up for Spring and ] ::.] goes into our SAVINGS for our dream dog /'- park. Not to mention it will be a blast! Spread v the word and get your tickets before they are sold out! Tickets will be available in person and online using the code RUFF. More details on purchasing to follow, if you have questions please email info@ruffboston.org 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 Remember Your Loved Ones The Post-Gazette accepts memorials throughout the year Please call d17-227-8929 Your Ad Here For information about advertising in the Post-Gazette, call 617-227-8929. Fried Clams, Dairy Queen, Baseball and Bob Turley Our long winter is over and with each day comes hope that warmer weather has re- awoken for all of us. The first signs of spring came a few weeks back as I crossed over from North Weymouth into Quincy Point over the Fore River Bridge. There was a line of folks at the window of Dairy Queen where every- one seemed eager to taste their first soft-serve ice cream in months. Then dur- ing Holy Week, Tony's Clam Shop re-opened for a new season. This year under doctor's orders, all that fried fish is out for me but this place makes a mean broiled seafood plate to die for. Finally, the Red Sox started, out on a winning note down at Yankee Sta- dium as Jon Lester bested CC on the mound. After the past couple of seasons, I was drawn back to my younger days as a baby boomer base- ball fan. Long before Red Sox Nation and when the Yan- kees played like baseball gods. When I am not munching down fish on Wollaston Bou- levard or eating ice cream in Quincy Point, I am think- ing baseball. Shortly, I will be celebrating both my retire- ment and next birthday and remembering back to the day when the most serious thing I did was keeping track of my favorite baseball players and their stats. When I think of April, I think warm weather on the horizon. Back in the day, I would travel with my family and thousands of others over to Revere Beach on what is now called the Blue Line. All the amusements opened up on Easter Sunday and after Mass, Roxbury and South End kids knew where the action was. Nothing like whacking each other on the Dodgem cars or going inside the Hippodrome for the best merry-go-round ride in the world. However, it was baseball and softball we all waited for after the last snow flake fell. I still actually own my first baseman's glove that I pur- chased in Downtown Boston at Raymond's for a mere five bucks. In 1965, I used it as a first baseman on the St. Philip Phillies baseball team in Roxbury. In the next few months, I hope to be using it again as a member of the West End Co-ed Softball League 48 years later. They don't make gloves the way they used to, huh? As for baseball, I don't re- member the last time I was at Fenway Park. Tickets are much too expensive for me. Back in the day when bleacher seats were 60 cents apiece, I saw 20 games a season when the Sox were stinkoroo. Back then, we would play hide and seek from the ushers as we began our move from the bleachers over to the third base line. Seventy five percent of the seats were always empty and sitting two rows from the visitor dugout was a real bargain at 60 cents. Hey, sometimes, we didn't make it and the ushers threw us out of the park but most times we were successful because there were always more of us than them. Prior to 1967 most Red Sox fans went to Fenway to see the baseball greats from the other teams that came to town. If we actually won a game, we were always amazed. Recently, I read that Yankees pitcher Bob Turley had passed away. I always liked him even though the Yankees had so many other great pitchers on their staff. My favorite Yankee was Whitey Ford. I also liked Ralph Terry but there was something about Bob Turley. Maybe it was his fast ball. Maybe because he played in the shadow of so many other NY Yankees players but he was always really good. He never made the Hall of Fame but in his 8 New York years, he went 82-52 with 58 complete games and a 3.64 ERA. His best season was 1958 when he went 21-7 with 19 com- plete games, 6 shutouts and a 2.97 ERA. He won the Cy Young that year. The Red Sox weren't fun during all those lean years of the late fifties and sixties. In 1961, they finished an amazing 33 games behind the World Champion NY Yankees. Both in September 2011 and all of last (72-90) season old memories were resurrected younger fans were in disarray, but for me, I had seen it so many times before. This year, I will be play- ing ball again. For the past few seasons, I have always been the oldest player in the West End League and the glove I use is usually older than 80 percent of the league's ballplayers. I feel every spring and summer with the hope that I can survive another sea- son as a ballplayer. I don't run so well anymore. Most of my power has been weak- ened with age but I can still pick my shots and hope I beat out the ball to first. My running isn't pretty to watch either but the fact that I still run to first after all these seasons is an amazing feat in itself. So give me a sunny day, some broiled fish and an ice cream cone and I will be ready to take to the field and hope I won't embarrass myself. I am not as good as I once was and I am far from being useless but please close your eyes while I am running the base paths. Enjoy spring and summer and use your gift of time to its fullness.