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September 9, 2016

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POST-GAZETTE, SEPTEMBER 9, 2016 L'Anno Bello: A Year in Italian Folklore Saint Charles of Mount Argus The Lessons of La Vendemmia by Ally Di Censo Symynkywicz September in Italy is a glori- tant grape when they crossed ous time of the year. The sun the ocean, making it a staple still bakes the landscape into of Italian-American culture. glorious hues of amber and Grapes were my father's favorite ochre. Local festivals called fruit, and a bowl of translucent sagre celebrate the ongoing har- and sweet pale green grapes, or vest, with town squares becom- velvety purple fruit, frequently ing veritable banquets of local sat on our kitchen table. Several specialties ranging from apples relatives of mine grow grapes to truffles to figs. Of course, at home, the gnarled vines the country begins gearing up and wild leaves creeping over for the autumn as well, as the backyard trellises like a laby- dusky nights become cooler rinth. Back in Italy, the same and people adjust to rigorous vineyards that adorn postcards rhythms of the new season, and posters are humming with However, one September event activity for the September yen- particularly captures the whole demmia. Skilled farmers know essence of Italy in the fall. It the precise temperature and is called la vendemmia, or the weather that make for the best grape harvest, and it sweeps the picking conditions and will country through the autumnal produce the optimal grapes and months. La vendemmia is a wine. Nowadays, many people sacred heart in Italy, where the adapt technological methods to grape comprises a prized crop la vendemmia, using the latest and its final product, wine, gadgets to test the acidity of the forms the crux of its national grapes. However, tradition still character. Throughout this hat- reigns supreme in many parts of vest, Italian towns buzz with the Italy, where the whole village as- energy of people collecting their sembles to pick grapes, from the grapes in giant wicker baskets grandmothers in kerchiefs to or on the back of tractors, ready the hip young people on break to be eaten as a fresh seasonal from college. One can sense treat or distilled into the coun- the Bacchanalian revels of old try's famous wines. Communal in these communal gatherings. pleasures blend with hard work La vendemmia is so vital in in order to create a beauti- Italy precisely because much ful dance of quaint customs, of these harvested grapes will careful food preparation, and be used in one of Italy's most long-term planning for the cold iconic products, wine. Wine, or months ahead. Observing Ital- vino, holds a significant spot in ian vendemmia customs reveals Italian culture and society, find- much about the power of hat- ing a place on every dinner table vest as a way of respecting the and forming the basic tenet of Earth and the lure of traditions, Italian hospitality. Wine is also even in modem Italy. imbued with a religious con- Indeed, the sight of vine- notation, serving a prominent yards perched on rolling hills, place in the Eucharistic ritual of with dappled sunlight shining bread and wine. It is not unusu- through the gemlike green al for the basements in some of leaves and violet grapes, has my family member's homes to become an indelible symbol of be stocked with bottles of wine, Italy, often being the first im- glowing an eerie shade of white society that numerous super- stitions protect its reputation and warn of dire consequences to anyone who mistreats wine. A superstition that hearkens back to Roman times states that a person who spills wine must dab a little behind each ear to ward off any bad luck that comes from the waste of the precious drink. However, Italians do consider it good luck to spill wine on new clothes or a tablecloth. Perhaps this is a way for the wine to transfer its inherent positivity to the new garments. Miscellaneous wine superstitions further include never toasting with water, but rather always with wine; avoid- ing serving wine "backhanded," or with the back of the hand facing guests; and women re- fraining from drinking the last drops of wine in a bottle at the risk of remaining unmarried (this superstition, of course, is from olden days when society dictated that women must get married). I do not drink wine myself, but I appreciate the wisdom and customs of my ancestors behind its making. I believe that one of the most important lessons to be gleamed from/a vendemmia is patience. Farmers must wait a long time for the grapes to be just right for picking; gathering the crop any sooner or later impacts that taste of the fruit and the eventual wine. Later, winemak- ers similarly ready themselves for the grapes to be distilled and the must to turn to wine. The traditional day in Italy for tasting new wine is actually St. Martin's Day, or la Festa di San Martino, which falls on No- vember 114- two months after the bulk of the grape harvest has taken place. Afterwards, though, the. wine becomes a crucial part of the Italian holiday season and beyond. As we enter the fall, with its new rhythms and its return to school and work, we can all learn lessons from la vendemmia. We can set many goals for professional and personal improvement, but we should realize that they will take patience, dedication, and hard work in order to manifest. Once they do, however, they will be as beautiful and well-earned as the finest Italian wine, which once started from the lowliest, bar- est vine. Just as Italians gather grapes this September, let us by Benne~Mo~nari Saint Charles was born Joannes Andreas Houben on December 11, 1821, in the vil- lage of Munstergeleen in the Netherlands. His father was Peter Joseph Houben and his mother was Johanna Elizabeth Luyten. His father was a miller by trade. One of eleven chil- dren in a poor family, Charles attended the village school in his youth. He joined the army reserve in 1840, spending a brief period on active duty. While in the army, he heard of the Passionists and decided he wanted to become a Passionist priest. Having decided to conse- crate his life to God, he entered the Passionist Novitiate at Ere, Tournai, in 1845. He made his religious profession on Decem- ber 10, 1846, and was ordained to the priesthood on December 21, 1850. and R/chard Mo//nar/ Ft. Charles was assigned to England in 1852. An advocate of Ecumenism, Charles worked hard for the good of souls and the unity of the Church. Father Charles was a man of great prayer, following in the foot- steps of Saint Paul of the Cross and the first Passionists. In England, Father Charles worked with the Irish immi- grants fleeing the Potato Fam- ine. He was transferred on July 6, 1857, to a retreat house in an area near Dublin, Ireland, called Mount Argus where, ex- cept for a brief trip to England in 1866, he spent the rest of his remaining 36 years. Father Charles gained a repu- tation for his compassion for the sick and those in need of guid- ance. Charles was renowned for his gifts of bodily and spiritual healing during his many years of service at the Passionist Church at Harold's Cross, Dublin. He died on January 5, 1893, at Mount Argus, from an infected leg wound received in a carriage accident. He is buried at Mount Argus, Dublin, Ireland A man healed of a seemingly terminal illness through his intercem~ion attended his can- onization. His reputation for healing was so great at the time that a reference is made to him in the famous novel Ulysses by James Joyce. He was canonized at St Peter's in Rome by Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday, June 3, 2007. Saint Charles of Mount Argus feast day is celebrated on January S Cambridge Festival SS COSMAS AND DAMIAN September 9, 10, 11 Warren and Cambridge St., Cambridge Sunday Procession I pm age that enters people's minds and purple in the dim light,gather our own hopes, dreams when they think of the Italian aged to perfection and ready to and challenges and work to countryside. Italian immigrants be brought out to greet the ar- make them come into fruition to the United States broughtrival of a guest. Actually, wine this autumn and all year long. over their love for the a11-impor- is such a touchstone of Italian Ally Di Censo Symynkywicz is a Graduate Student in History at the University of Massachu- setts Boston. She appreciates a nycommentsandsuggestions about Italian holidays and folk- lore at q ,duCct te_ /f DIAMONDS Public Insurance Adjuster l Ro-ex / Since 1969 l ESTATE JEWELRY | FOR ALL YOUR INSURANCE NEEDS l Bought & Sold l Jewelers Exch. Bldg.| Owned and operated by Pamela Donnaruma, Publisher, Post.Gazette AUTO * HOMEOWNERS * TENANTS Jim (617) 263-7766 j COMMERCIAL Experience makes the difference 209 BROADWAY, REVERE, MA 02151 Tel. 781.284.1100 Fax 781.284.2200 Free Parking Adjacent to Building cai1617-227-8929. Stationery * Business Cards * Menus * Flyers Program Books Wedding and Party Invitations Announcements * Business Forms and Documents -- COMPETITIVE PRICES