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= - Page 4 POST-GAZETTE, APRIL1 8, 2014 .... L'Anno Bello: A Year in Italian Folklore The Joys of an Italian Easter Easter is one of my favor- ite holidays because it posi- tively smells of spring. All of its symbols, from delicate bunnies to colorful flowers, remind us that spring has come, spreading her warm cloak of rebirth around the world. Easter represents the joy and happiness of watch- ing nature blossom once more, of seeing the Earth burst alive once again with bright hues and the promise of mornings filled with sun- shine. My family's Easter celebrations have always honored the Italian tradi- tions that pay homage to this sense of rebirth. For Easter in Italy is no slight affair -- it is considered the most important holiday of the year, a day of both profound religious significance and quaint customs that honor the Earth's reawakening. The family gatherings,, spe- cial dishes, and natural ele- ments all combine to make an Italian Easter, or Pasqua, a supreme feast of spring, revelry of new life and warm days. My father, who grew up in the Abruzzi town of Sulmona, remembers a specific ritual that remains synonymous with Easter in his mind. The by Ally Di Censo Symynkywicz people of Abruzzi celebrate a custom known as La Madonna Che Scappa in Piazza, or "the Madonna who runs in the square." On Eas- ter Sunday, a procession car- ries a statue of the Virgin Mary clad in black. At some point in the parade, the Vir- gin recognizes that Jesus has risen from the tomb, and so the people carrying her shed off her black cloak and run with her towards the church. Bells ring, and people cheer and clap with unbridled joy. This ritual exemplifies Easter in Italy -- an un- abashed festival of delight following the austere Lenten season. Another surprising ritual takes place in Flo- rence, known as il Scoppio del Carro, or explosion of the cart, in which a decorated wagon laden with fireworks bursts in a colorful display in the city center. While less explosive, the traditions my family observes also pay heed to the sense of giddy elation that accompanies Easter. We set out beautifully dyed eggs, as bright as a spring sunburst. We wear new clothes, as Italian supersti- tion decrees that this is a must for Easter, and this feels so natural among the CREDIT UNION 61%482 !4787 i www.firstpriorityeu.com themes of new life and rebirth that characterize Easter. Easter is also when we break open the hollow uovo di Pasqua, or Easter egg, and reveal the surprises hidden inside (usually candy!). All of these customs establish Easter as one of the most joyous times of the year in my mind. Of course, Easter in Italy is also characterized by sev- eral foods crafted especially for the holiday. My father likes the colomba pasquale, or Easter dove, which is a sweet bread shaped like a dove and sometimes deco- rated with multicolored sprinkles. Some versions of the colomba pasquale have Easter eggs tucked in at the top, the egg being an easily recognizable symbol of new life, whether refer- ring to Jesus's Resurrec- tion or the rebirth of na- ture during the spring. My grandmother, on the other hand, fondly remembers the pastiera, or Easter pie. Dif- ferent versions of pastiera exist according to the region; some are savory, while sweet ones may be made with ricotta, rice or wheat berries. My pastiera is a ricotta pie with orange peel and chunks of chocolate, and I am already craving its delicate yet tangy taste as I write this sentence. Lamb is also an important Easter staple in Italy, being both symbolic of spring animals and JesuLs's title as Lamb of God. Sinc:e I am a vegetarian, I stick with admiring the intricate pieces of butter molded and deco- rated to look like lambs that d .... by Sal Giarratani Fort Hood Wasn't Terrorism This Time But ... Unlike November 5, 2009, when Maj. Nidal Hasan, a self- proclaimed "Soldier of Allah" shouted "Allahu Akhbar" and then went on a deadly rampage, killing 13 and wounded 32 in what the White House continues to call "workplace violence," the recent Fort Hood shootings does look like a real case of workplace violence: This time a soldier, SPC Ivan Lopez, killed 3 and wounded. 16 others. It must have looked like a nightmare getting repeated, as once again a gunman opened fire at this Army base, home to the Iot Cavalry Division in Killeen, Texas. The president assured the nation that this was not a ter- rorist attack. As if this makes it any easier to digest. This time the shooter was identified as a soldier who has been treated for mental health issues who served in Iraq in 2011, The Army has admitted that the shooter had been under- going evaluation for post traumatic stress disorder and treat- ment for depression and anxiety but the post commander Lt. General Mark A. Milley stated late last week that his "underlying medical conditions" were not a direct factor in the shootings. He added, "We believe that the immediate precipitating factor was more likely an escalating argument in his unit area." However, on his Facebook page, the shooter expressed outrage over Adam Lanza's shootings at the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. His father down in Puerto Rico believes his son must have been mentally ill and not "in his right mind." After 40 years with the State Department of Mental Health, 27 years as a police officer, I would tend to believe the father is correct. It would seem with hindsight that this young sol- dier was quite troubled for some time and the help he needed wasn't apparently getting to him quick enough. The mental health system nationwide needs to get much better and quickly or these kinds of shootings will continue to happen. In many ways terrorism is at work, but it is the unseen terrorism of a troubled mind. How many out there around us are harboring dark thoughts? How many are taking antidepressants to deal with a growing dark hole which can create hallucinations, delu- sions and euphoria. This country when dealing with mental health issues seems just crazy at times. How can a lieutenant general actually say that the underlying psychiatric issues were not a direct factor in the shootings? With the shooter dead, we may never know why he did as he did at Fort Hood. Did the previous 2009 rampage play a adorn Italian shop windows, role? What of the deaths recently of his mother and grandfa- Finally, Italians do not stop ther? What about his time in combat in freq. I00 SwiftStreet their feasting once Easter Trouble is, trying to deal with mental illness in this coun- i:~ East Boston, MA02II8 Sunday ends. The following try is hard to do. One because of the cost of effective treat- :i)i: !! iI. :: :::: ::i day, Easter Monday, is known meats and two, the massive denial by most over the way we :i 25D0rcbester: nue ii. :i !i as La Pasquetta, or "Little treat victims of mental illness in our society. Effective treat- B ,:MA 022 5 i!i; i Easter." Italians celebrate meat of mental illness may be quite costly but look at the this day with picnics in the cost to society of our current reactive approach to tortured Z countryside or beach, enjoy- minds around us. !i lag the beautiful spring We can and shuld d much better t prevent the next :::: :: ..... weather and the company ofIvan Lopez from making more gruesome news. ........................ loved ones. epositsi red! 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