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August 14, 2015

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Page 4 POST-GAZETTE, AUGUST 14, 2015 L'Anno Bello: A Year in Italian Folklore I Ferragosto: When All of Italy is on Vacation by Ally Di Censo Symynkywicz sance horse race, occurs around this time. Around by Sal Giarratani Europe, in fact, the Feast There is no use hiding it anymore: autumn is coming. The signs of the changing season pulsate all around me. The evenings fall ear- lier, a dusky blue mantel of sky covering the Earth, and the air feels crisper as well. The earliest crop of apples has arrived at markets, and I cannot wait to enjoy this succulent fruit in cakes, breads, crisps and as a simple snack. Even Halloween deco- rations, smiling pumpkins and arched black cats, begin to wink from store shelves amidst all the notebooks and pencils of back-to-school sales. Although autumn is my favorite season, I am de- termined to hold on to the rest of the summer for as long as I can, until the school bell rings in September. Af- ter all, the days are still warm and the sun stiU bakes the Earth. Indeed, in Italy, summer vacation remains in full swing. The biggest summer holiday in Italy oc- curs on August 15 though Italians extend the celebra- tions for several weeks be- fore or after. For this feast, named Ferragosto, Italians leave the cities en masse to spend time at the beach or mountains. Caught be- tween the heat and idleness of summer and the rhythmic nature of fall, Ferragosto pro- vides Italy with one last joy- ous blast of the vacation season. Visiting Italy during August can sometimes resemble walking through the quiet remains of an ancient civi- lization. Tourists abound, of course, but many Italians had already escaped the scorching heat of cities and towns once August be- gan, embarking on their Ferragosto vacations until the holiday culminates on August 154. I remember the slightly eerie sensation of walking through Rome one August ten years ago, and noticing the boarded-up res- taurants and theaters and shops. Meanwhile, the Ital- ian coastline brims with colorful beach umbrellas and chic sunbathers, the sands chockablock with impromptu volleyball games and radios blaring the latest hits. Ital- ians even exchange holiday greeting cards emblazoned with pictures of beach pic- nics and grinning suns. In small Italian villages, such as my father's home outside of Sulmona in Abruzzo, people celebrate Ferragosto with shady al fresco dinners, featuring the seasonal pro- duce of zucchinis, tomatoes, peppers and herbs. This holi- day has been important to Italians since ancient times. It hearkens back to the year 18 B.C., when the Emperor Augustus established the Feriae Augustae -- Festivals of Augustus -- in honor of his reign. Some historians suspect that Augustus's fes- tivals replaced older holidays like the V/na//a rusttca which marked the grape harvest. For all of its modern trap- pings, therefore, Ferragosto remains a seasonal celebra- tion honoring the fresh-air pleasures of summer and the harvest. August 15 holds another great significance in Ital- ian culture: it is the feast day of the Assumption, or L'Assunzione. This religious holiday observes the Virgin Mary's physical and spiritual Ascent into Heaven. Italian villages and towns combine Ferragosto and L'Assunztone festivities by holding parades and processions where the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary is held aloft. In the medieval city of Siena, the famous Palio, or Renais- of the Assumption also serves as an important sea- sonal marker, heralding the start of the harvest. Arme- nian farmers bring freshly- harvested grapes to church on the Sunday closest to the Assumption so that the priest may bless the fruit. In Poland, where the Virgin Mary of the Assumption is also known as the Blessed Mother of the Herbs, people gather herbs and have them blessed in church and later display those herbs around their homes for protection. I honor the harvest qualities of the Assumption by bak- ing cheesy biscuits studded with chives; both the wheat and the herbs symbolize the bounty of Mother Earth. The pungent aroma and simple texture of these small breads remind me that August means far more than the end of summer; rather, it is a time to be thankful for the gifts of na- ture and to appreciate the cyclical changing of the sea- sons much as our ancestors did. Therefore, August in Italy teaches us to live in the moment. Though we may be worried about the stress of the upcoming cold-weather months, the holiday of Ferragosto encourages us to seize the last few weeks of summer with fanfare and fun, enjoying the cool waters of the ocean or a picnic under the stars, surrounded by family and friends. Mean- while, the Feast of the Assumption emphasizes the bountiful harvest that char- acterizes the late summer and fall, as well as the beauty of the changing seasons. So let us allow the lessons of these two holi- days to permeate our lives, and carry the pleasures of August with us always. P.S. Happy Birthday to my father Rocco Di Censo, who was born the day after Ferragosto. Daddy, I love you always! Ally Di Censo Symynkywicz is a Graduate Student in His- tory at the University of Mas- sachusetts Boston. She appre- ciates any comments and sug- gestions about Italian holidays and folklore at adicenso89 Frank Gifford, Rest in Peace If you are a baby boomer, the name Frank Gifford means something very special to you. Especially if you have been a long-time football fan. I remember back in my youth when the NY Giants were a big deal in the NFL, before the Patriots and the AFL came along. He was a legendary member of some great Giants teams back when they had many fans in football-less Boston. Back in those days, the NY Giants (along with some great Baltimore Colts teams) domi- nated the sport. This was back before football would grow into America's sport. To me, Frank Gifford also was remembered as a great pitchman on TV for all things, even kitchen appli- ances. Finally, when Monday Night Football began, he became the face of football every Monday night along with Howard CoseU and Dandy Don Meredith. Recently, the Fox News Net- work broke all records for a political debate in prime time TV with a 16 share of the audience. But back in the day, Monday Night Foot- ball would regularly hit a 70 share of audiences. Gifford was a household name, a known face and an all around positive guy with a great smile. Only God and GE know how many washers and dryers he sold with that smile of his. As an aging baby boomer, I see another piece of my youth fading to black. Those were the days my friend as Archie Bunker used to sing. Most of our heroes today seem so jaded in compari- son. I remember when things seemed so much bet- ter. Hopefully those days will return again. But until then, I remember heroes like Frank Gifford who played their hearts out on the field and were proud of their ac- complishments. Frank Gifford, RIP! NORTH END ATHLETIC Annual Golf Tournament a Huge Success The Annual North End Athletic Association Golf Tournament was held on Monday, August 3, 2015. More than 100 golfers participated in the sold-out tournament, which was held at the Andover Country Club. "The tournament was a huge success," stated Honorary Chairman Robert Travaglini and NEAA President, Louis Cavagnaro. We wish to thank the many residents, business owners and friends of the North End who assisted us in achieving our goal." The money raised will allow the NEAA to purchase uniforms and equipment for sporting events and add to the existing programs. The NEAA is a 55-year-old organization that provides athletic, social, educational and civic activities within the community and the City of Boston. Since 1969 FOR ALL YOUR INSURANCE NEED5 RICHARD SETTIPANE Public Insurance Adjuster Experience makes the difference! 209 BROADWAY, REVERE, MA 02151 Tel. 781.284.1100 Fax 781.284.2200 Boston 617.523.3456 Free Parking Adjacent to Building Here 17-227-8929. EAST BOSTON SATELLITE OFFICE is NOW OPEN MARIE MATARESE 35 Bennington Street, East Boston 617.227.8929 TUES. 10:00 A.M. - 3.00 P.M. THURS. 11:00 A.M.- 2:00 P.M.