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July 15, 2016     Post-Gazette
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PAGE 4 .... POST-GAZETTE, JULY 15, 2016 Owned and operated by Pamela Donnaruma, Publisher, Post-Gazette ;= L'Anno BeUo: A Year in Italian Folklore Beautiful Birthday/ by Ally Di Censo Symynkywicz My birthday is quickly ap- proaching (Wednesday, July 20% and it has gotten me think- ing about these unique celebra- tions in general. Birthdays fall under the category of rites of passage, or milestones, and, as a result, cultures around the world celebrate birthdays with special customs and traditions. While we think of birthdays as great opportunities for parties and food, in ancient times people viewed birthdays as dangerous occasions because of their lim- inality, being poised between one year and the next. As such, birthday parties included -- and continue to include -- loud noise and noisemakers to scare off the evil spirit believed to be lurking around during this period. Many vestiges of these ancient fetes remain. From birthday cakes to picking up the check, here are special birthday traditions from around the world. Our first stop, of course, is Italy, one of the original homes of the birthday cake. Though scholars are stiU unsure about thft origin of the birthday cake, m ny theorize that these sweet tr|[ ts originated in the Mediter- ranean world. Ancient Greeks baked round cakes to honor Ar- temis, the goddess of the moon and the hunt, and then illumi- nated the cakes with candles in order to better resemble the moon. The ancient Romans, on the other hand, made sweet honey cakes to serve at birth- days and weddings -- where they were traditionally broken over the bride's head for good luck! However, the custom of placing candles on a birthday cake comes from Germany, where a large candle was often situated in the center of the cake to symbolize life. Modem Italian birthday traditions re- semble those of America. People gather for a birthday cake, food, a party and gifts. There are some differences, however. Be- ware of people pulling on your earlobes if you celebrate your birthday in Italy -- they will pull the corresponding number of years you are turning. Also, ifa group of friends go out to din- ner, it is the friend celebrating the birthday who is expected to pay for the meal. Finally, since saints are an important part of Italian culture, children are often named for the saint whose day coincides with their birth- day. Or they may celebrate on a smaller scale during the day be- longing to the saint who shares their name. My father, for ex- ample, was born on August 16% which is Saint Roch's day, and so my grandmother appropri- ately named him Roccol Foods are an important part of birthday celebrations around the world. Australian children, can expect to be served the charmingly named Fairy Bread, or buttered bread covered with multicolored sprinkles, during their parties. Children in Bra- zil receive marzipan candies shaped like fruit. Candies fea- ture in Mexican birthdays as well, where they are concealed in a pifiata which is later broken open by blindfolded guests. The Dutch, on the other hand, like to feast on pancakes sprinkled with powdered sugar. Many birthday foods also reflect the theme of good luck for the upcoming year. A person cel- ebrating their birthday in China will eat long noodles, which symbolize a long life. Russians have birthday pies instead of birthday cakes, and a message bestowing good fortune upon the birthday person is inscribed on the crust. Finally, Canadian children can expect a more im- mediate form of luck at birthday parties. Whoever finds a coin hidden in his or her slice of birthday cake will have the first turn in all of the feast's games! In addition to food, sometimes the specific age a person is turning forms the focal point of birthday celebrations. Usually these special birthdays honor the entrance into adulthood. The United States has "sweet sixteen" celebrations, while Latin American countries hold elaborate quinceafieras when a girl turns fifteen. These par- ties rival weddings and the girl shares a special dance with her father. In the Jewish tradition, bar or bat mitzvah rituals on a teenager's thirteenth birthday welcome the boy or girl as adult members of the community. Birthdays are a special time to honor both human joy and resilience. They indicate that we have once again made it through a year filled with myriad human emotions, from happiness to disillusionment, challenges and triumphs. They remind us that we have the strength to endure. Like holidays, birthdays are an indication that the year cycles on, and that is a good reason to celebrate. Whether we celebrate with cakes or dinners, when we honor a birthday, we honor the passage of time, but also all that is timeless -- love and family and good food. That is the true meaning of the candles wink- hag and blinking cheerfully on a birthday cake, a symbol that, like us, the world has come a long way. Ally Di Censo Symynkywicz is a Graduate Student in History at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Any comments and sug- gestions about Italian holidays and folklore at adicenso89@ gmail.com. at Christopher Columbus Park North End Music and Performing Arts Center (NEM- PAC) presents concerts at Christopher Columbus Park on Thursdays from 6:30 to 8:00 pm. Quality Printing for all your Commercial and Personal Needs Stationery * Business Car * Menus * Flyers Program Books * Wedding and Party Invitations Announcements * Business Forms and Documents 617-227-8929 There will also be a children's storytelling tent with reading and crafts from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. These events are great free familyflun for all ages. North End Against Drugs (NEAD) helps with these concerts through our affilia- tion with the Boston Founda- tion and the My Summer in the City Grant program. July 14~ m Seanzonati Jazz Night with Sounds of Italy July 21"t m Eight to the Bar Swing Favorites in the Park July 28th ~ The Ivy Leaf Traditional Irish Quartet For more information go to: www. northendwaterfront.com. 1 l Get | Resl s' For more ~o~ation ~' by Sal Giarr.____atan...._i :~L -~~~ re We Witnessing the Killing of America. What just happened in Dal- Black Lives Matter movement. las, Texas, should be seen as They are not doing anything unimaginable. But in reality, it that can heal our wounds and is sadly not. For several years bring people together. They are now, we have seen America at all about creating a changed en- the brink. Our society is splitting vironment and turning law en- at the seams. We have become forcement into the boogeymen two Americas in many different lurking in the shadows waiting ways. We see two Americas when to pounce on someone. This is it comes to the law. One for the not debate. This is appealing to elites of our society, and another the worst within folks. America for the rest of us. We I am not surprised at what have seen two Americas when it happened in Dallas when the comes to race in our society. We =War on Police" turned deadly. have seen two Americas when it In a civilized society, the police comes to those living well and are the lifeblood of our corn- those barely surviving, munities. They are the blue line We have seen our political that separates us from the rule leadership sadly unable to of the strongest. Without police, lead. From the White House on we cannot have a civilized soci- down, we have seen division, ety. America is tearing apart at not healing. We have too many the seams and the President of of our national leaders (both ap- the United States has done little pointed and elected)sowing the in nearly two terms to bring seeds of division. We see lead- about that national dialogue ers who are throwing gasoline that needs to be had. We have a on the fires burning across our president who celebrates Black heartland. This cannot go on. Lives Matter, as does the entire What happened in Dallas is Democratic Party right up to as bad as we have seen, but Hillary and Bernie, and who not as bad as it can get unless tends turn a blind eye to the we do something to change the violence the movement inspires. narrative where at any time over As a retired police officer, I almost anything an explosion believe the last thing America can take place, needs is a situation where dur- I read two quotes in the Bos- hag unknown stops by police, ton Herald on Saturday, July both parties are fearful of get- 9th, that need to be read and ting killed. This is not a good reread. The first comes from thing for anyone. Michael Curry, president of the We need to seek avenues that Boston branch of the NAACP, bring folks together as one, =We have a tendency to having because all of us live in this superficial conversations, but country and need each other. not having deep conversations Finally, in the aftermath across race and class lines. It's of Dallas, Black Lives Matter going to require people under- protesters continued marching standing why black Americans across America, in Dallas itself, are mad." The other quote and even here in Boston. Five was from former U.S. House police officers were ldlled by an Speaker Newt Gingrich, =If you alleged hateful sniper, and the are a normal white person, the marchers didn't even have the truth is you don't understand common decency to slow down. being black in America, andyou Also, the media continued instinctively underestimate the on trying to give legitimacy to level of discrimination and the Black Lives Matter. This ha- level of additional risk." tion is in trouble. We have Where are our leaders? Why returned to both 1957 in the are they either silent or stok- Civil Rights era and to the sum- ing the flames of hatred and mer of 1968 when cities bumed unrest? I heard the soundbite across America in racial flames. delivered by Rev. Jesse Jack- America needs to do much bet- son, who reportedly called the ter, and we need to do it quickly. police across America a kind of We cannot be helpless onlook- new KKK. Now isn't that just ers watching what is happen- the kind of observation that is ing. All of us need to do much needed today, NOT. better, because America is our I am totally disgusted with the country, all of us. Public Insurance Adjuster 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