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June 6, 2014

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Page 4 POST-GAZETTE, JUNE 6, 2014 Reclaiming My Roots, One Holiday at a Time "" th This Sunday, the 8 of assimilate into the cool and historical origins of the June,, many Italians will crowd of school the way celebrations, and each cus- , ___--tt/ spend the day outdoors all young children are tom, particularly those relat- celebrating the important Christian feast of Pentecost. Pentecost, which occurs on the seventh Sunday after Easter, honors the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus's disciples and marks the close of the Easter festivities. The fifty-day Eas- ter period is traditionally a time for reveling in the beauty and regrowth of nature, and Pentecost en- compasses many of these customs. In England, Pente- cost is known as Whitsun- day, a day which hosts Whitsun Ales, or outdoor fairs that include folk dancing, parades, feasts, decorations of flowers and garlands, and charitable contributions to the local parish and less fortunate families. In Italy, pet)pie refer to Pentecost as Pasqua Rossa, or Red Easter, named after the red vest- ments worn by priests on this day. Many Italian churches commemorate this holy occasion by scattering rose petals upon the congre- gation, symbolizing the de- scent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples and incorporat- ing the lovely flowers which bloom so brightly during the spring and summer into the celebration. This holiday reminds me that Easter time in Italy abounds with beautiful traditions that blend spirituality, commu- nity and the love of nature, creating unique customs that define the Italian cul- ture and lingering like a pleasant memory in all those who experience it. Indeed, it is the very study of these holidays and all their rich symbolism that made me appreciate my Italian roots more. Though I now blush with embarrass- ment about this, I used to attempt to downplay my Italian heritage, squashing !it in the back of my pocket wont to do, my Italian-ness represented the other, the strange. No one else I knew opened their presents on Christmas Eve -- I received a lot of puzzled looks when- ever I explained that by mid- night, all the presents were unwrapped and I was sitting around the Christmas tree with my family. No one else had the odd little inflections in their voices like the one that developed in mine after speaking so much Ital- ian at home. However, as I got older, I realized how fool- ish I had been, and that most people thought my Italian customs were fascinating. I largely have my parents to thank for this momentous shift, as they always related the importance and deep sig- nificance of our Italian tra- ditions to me. Because of them, I learned how truly complex Italian culture is, and more importantly, that it is not monolithic -- every region of Italy has its own unique foods, customs, cel- ebrations and even lan- guages. I had a whole big heritage to explore! Now, I am immensely proud of my Italian roots, recognizing the history and practices of the home country and the sacrifices of my ancestors. I want to give my future chil- dren the same sort of tradi- tion-based childhood I had, and my husband and I are on the same page about expos- ing our children to the sym- bolic and significant cus- toms of their Italian heri- tage, as well as the French and Eastern European roots on their father's side. Exploring holidays has also gone a long way in help- ing me appreciate my Ital- ian self. The very customs I once viewed as so alien now resonate with a profound meaning. Italian holiday tra- ditions developed as ways to like a mediocre test grad e . commemorate and remem- As a young child, ,trying to ber the spiritual, folkloristic You don't have to wait until we o this Summer... Call 617-387-5110 to speak with a member of our business development team today! 00-.a00.EAG L E BANK 1 I 800-BANK-EAGLE The North End's Community Bank EQU00,0US00,G Member FDIC / Member DIF LENDER ing to food, remains laden with weighty symbolism. The seafood-based Christmas Eve dinner, la Vigilia, hearkens back to the days when Advent was considered a fast period in preparation for the birth of Jesus. The fried strips of dough coated with powdered sugar that appear in Italian shops around the Carnival season reflect the creative ways Italians used up their butter and oil before the austerity of Lent. Big chocolate eggs, an Italian Easter staple, serve as a metaphor for the regrowth of nature during the springtime. The spice cookies eaten on All Souls' Day, known not-so-delicately as the Bones of the Dead, reminded Italians of the transience of life, a lesson weU-known to many in harsh historical epochs like the Middle Ages. Whenever people ask about my Italian holiday customs now, I no longer mumble my answer and look away but explain their history with pride. Similarly, I love to research the holiday traditions of cul- tures all around the world because they too brim with beautiful practices and sym- bolic importance. Writing this column has taught me not only to take heart in my own heritage but also to ap- preciate the diversity of our Earth. Though we live in a fast-paced, modernized world, being aware of our roots and our traditions will always keep the past and the wis- dom of our ancestors in our hearts. So when Italians celebrate the special and significant holiday of Pentecost this Sunday, they are continu- ing the time-honored prac- tice of imbuing holidays with the love of community and rich symbolism that highlights their importance. Studying these very holidays has not only bequeathed me a powerful tapestry of tradi- tions and customs, but it has also shown me the beauty of honoring your heritage, no matter what it is, for it is an indelible part of who we are as people. Whenever you are celebrating a holiday, a rite of passage, or even a family dinner, pay attention to why you are doing what you are doing. As you commemorate these traditions, remember that your ancestors once were going through similar motions, becoming part of the ever-changing, always enduring dance of time. Ally Di CensoSymynkywicz is a Graduate Student in History at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She appreciates any comments and suggestions about Italian holidays and folklore at Will We Ever Know the Whole Truth About Benghazi? Boy, the moonbat Democrats in the U.S. House found themselves caught between a rock and a hard place. No way they wanted yet another investigation of what happened the night of September 11, 2012 at the Benghazi diplomatic mission in Libya. Whenever conservative talk radio started clamoring for any congressional hearing, they smirked and said Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, how many more investigations do we need? Hillary Clinton is caught in a real rock hard place. After telling congressmen, "What's the difference?" Now, she is facing another day of hearings before the House Select Committee on Benghazi where more questions will be asked of her. For the Republicans appointed to this com- mittee, these hearings are important because if we don't know what happened and why, it could happen again. How- ever, to the Democrats finally appointed by House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, it seems a joke that they will attempt to razzle dazzle through trying to make it all a partisan scheme by the GOP for the midterm elections. Just look at the moonbats she appointed to the com- mittee. Do any of them enter these hearings with an open mind? Two of these five members she appointed couldn't be more partisan. When I think of U.S. Reps. Elijah Cum- mings, D-Georgia and Loretta Sanchez, D-California, I think the term "useless moonbat." Why didn't Pelosi just appoint U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz who currently serves as the chair of the Democratic National Committee? Most Americans remain in the dark about the storming of Benghazi and the killing of a U.S. ambassador and three security folks. Four Americans are dead at the hands of terrorism celebrating the 11 th anniversary of 9/11 and we haven't brought anyone to justice for this crime. When asked why the Marines weren't dispatched to Benghazi, the line from the White House and State Department is that the Marines wouldn't have gotten there in time to save any of the four; but what about securing the Benghazi mission from being rifled through for sensitive documents? There are a lot of Benghazi deniers out there most of them are Democrats who it would seem would like to have the whole Benghazi thing die a quiet death. The storming of Benghazi, the apparent cover-up of blam- ing it on a stupid video and the lack of immediate response makes many wonder about what really happened and more importantly why and how. If what the Democrats are saying proves correct, then the story is put to bed, but if more is uncovered creating more questions, then it could open up a whole can of worms for the Democrats, the Obama White House and Hillary Clinton's chances in 2016. House Speaker John Boehner had to be pushed from his right to do what he should have done months ago. The investigation will soon be upon us and all most of us desire are answers to questions not really answered to date. If Democrats were more forthcoming at the beginning, Benghazi might not even deserve a hearing right now but they weren't and the hearings are necessary. 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 50876-2454 J