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August 15, 2014     Post-Gazette
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Page 4 POST-GAZETTE, AUGUST 15, 2014 L00nno.e00:A00arin,tal00,n00o0000re ! ..... Ferragosta: Italy s Summer Festival ! ] Virgin Mary's ascent into [ Heaven. All across Italy, by Sal Gzarratam ing heat at the beginning of the month, taking their Ferragosto vacations until the festival culminates on the 15 m. It can be quite an experience to walk around a city like Rome, and stepping outside of the normal tour- ist haunts, noticing that a number of shops, theaters and restaurants are closed and boarded up. The Italian coastline, on the other hand, resembles a rainbow of colorful beach umbrellas and excited sunbathers stretch- ing on the sand or jumping headfirst into ocean waves. Ferragosto has become so associated with trips to the beach in Italy that people exchange greeting cards for the holiday emblazoned with smiling watermelons or burning suns peeking over the horizon. Elsewhere, Ferragosto is celebrated with family feasts in shady back- yards featuring August pro- duce like tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and herbs. So where did this significant Italian holiday come from? Actually, the history of Ferra- gosto stems back to the year 18 B.C., when Roman emperor Augustus estab- lished the Feriae Augusti- Augustus's Festivals -- in honor of his reign. Scholars suspect that the original Ferragosto replaced older feasts like the Vinalia rustica which commemorated the grape harvest. For all its mod- em decadence, Ferragosto is at heart a celebration of the changing seasons. August 15 th holds a unique importance for Italians: it is L'Assunzione, or the Feast of the Assumptio n . This reli- gious holiday observes the During this time of the year, as the pleasant and golden August days roll lazily along like a hay baiTel, I can feel the pulse of transition underneath my feet. Despite the hot temperatures that guide me into the cool waters of a swimming pool and the sense of carefree vacation that permeates the air, I know that autumn is approaching. The signs are everywhere. I sense autumn in the skies that turn dusky around seven- thirty, the glossy apples that line groceries in waves of green and red, the bustle to get everything ready before school starts -- even Hal- loween decorations begin to smile from store shelves7 However, I remain deter- mined to enjoy every last bit of my summer vacation be- fore the school bell rings in September. For that, I look to Italians for inspiration. Italy's biggest summer holi- day occurs on August 15 m, though celebrations extend to the weeks before and after the date. It is called Ferra- gosto, and Italians honor it by leaving the cities in droves and spending time relaxing by the beach or at the mountains. As we find ourselves caught between the hazy summer days and the pulsating rhythm of the autumn to come, Ferragosto teaches us to relax and live in the moment. Visiting Italy in August feels akin to touring an en- chanted kingdom bewitched into silence through a mys- tical spell. Oh, yes, many tourists abound, as always. However, many Italians flee the cities and their swelter- 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 towns and villages incorpo- rate L'Assunzione into their Ferragosto festivities by hold- ing parades and processions where statues of the Virgin Mary are held aloft. The old medieval city of Siena holds the Palio, or the world- famous horse race where participants are decked out in Renaissance garb, during this time. Elsewhere around Europe, the Feast of the Assumption also serves as a seasonal marker reminding people that it is time to start the harvest. In Armenia, farmers bring their har- vested grapes to church on the Sunday closest to the Assumption for a special blessing. People in Poland, who know the Virgin Mary of the Assumption as the Blessed Mother of the Herbs, bring freshly gathered herbs to churches for a blessing, and later display these herbs around their home for protection. I too will honor the herb harvest this Assumption Day by making cheesy biscuits studded with chives, a simple recipe that includes the wheat and the plants of Mother Earth. The aroma will remind me that August is far more than a month that heralds the end of summer vacation in modern society; rather, it is a time to appreciate the harvest .and bounty that signaled the survival of our ancestors. The Italian August festivi- ties of Ferragosto and L'Assunzione teach us to honor the natural world around us and also to live in the moment. As August nears its end, we may be worried about returning to school, or work, or about the upcoming cold weather of the autumn and winter. Yet Ferragosto is all about carving time for ourselves, to take moments devoted to family and friendship, joy and celebrations, the splash of ocean waters and life- bringing qualities of the summer sun. Meanwhile, L'Assunzione pays special attention to the seasonal challenges beautifully un- ........ dffriffg August, and the growing bounty of the harvest. To hold the special meanings of these holidays in our heart is to appreciate the cycle of the year and all the blessings it infers upon US. P.S. Happy Birthday to my fathet Rocco Di Censo, who was born the day after Ferragosto! Ally Di Censo Symynkywicz 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. I DRIVERS 1 Local-Home Nightly! Boston Dryvan! $18.00/hr & Great Benefits! CDL.-A, 1yr. Exp. Req. 1-855-971-6893 Democrats Fundraising on Impeachment Threat Fundraising pitches by the Democratic National Com- mittee and other Demo- cratic PACs are using the specter of impeachment as a way to dig into the pockets of liberal Democrats who love drinking their favorite Kool-Aid drinks. Speaker John Boehner and the Republican House have decided to sue Presi- dent Obama for his over- reach with executive orders to get around the legislative process. Most Republicans and Democrats don't see this lawsuit as being relevant. To me, it is just a way for Boehner to get the Tea Party wing off his back. They keep saying do something, and so he does something. Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi knows the Democrats are in big trouble in the mid- term elections. Most polls show Republicans gaining additional House seats and probably taking back the Senate. Pelosi knows this would be very negative for Democrats in Obama's last two years in office. Whatever Obama is going to do, he'll have to do it in a hurry because if the GOP landslide comes, Obama is not only a lame duck, but he will be wingless too. The last thing Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid want is a full Republican Congress. Reid will be powerless and Pelosi will continue to spin in the wind. A number of radical Repub- licans and far right conser- vatives are talking silly stuff like a coup d'6tat by Obama. These people are drinking their own favorite Kool-Aid drinks, too. As far as impeachment goes, while our president has in many ways acted law- lessly by using executive rule with that pen and phone of his, he could not be im- peached today. It would be a waste of time like back in 1996 when the Republican House impeached Bill Clin- ton, but the Senate didn't. The climate for impeach- ment isn't there yet among mainstream voters. Until it is, it is stupid to proceed down that road to nowhere. I say wait until President Obama makes the first move with his pen and phone. If he grants Amnesty to illegals by executive ac- tion because Congress failed to act themselves, then im- peachment might be a drum beat away. If you add all the other scandals in the Obama Administration with amnesty for 5-6 million illegals, the public might rise up in response to a president acting like a one man army of righteousness. If the American people start seeing Obama acting like the president that Rich- ard Nixon always wanted to be, who knows the outcome of anything. A strong president is re- spected, but a strong-armed president is feared more. Other strong presidents llke Lyndon Baines Johnson knew when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em. 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