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September 25, 2015     Post-Gazette
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Page 4 POST-GAZETTE, SEPTEMBER 25, 2015 L'Anno Bello: A Year in Italian Folklore Finding Light in the Darkness by Ally Di Censo Symynkywicz The other day, I held a get- together at my home, sur- rounded by family, to cel- ebrate autumn. As we gath- ered in the honey-colored glow of the dining room, we ate potato dumplings -- in honor of Oktoberfest! -- and my mother's seafood rice, then finished with pumpkin bread and an apple-almond tart for dessert. The conver- sation naturally turned to the season, to the seemingly sud- den onset of fall and the ap- proaching winter. Several of my family members started to bemoan the darkness that, perhaps more than anything, truly heralds the arrival of the autumnal days. I can certainly understand the of- ten overwhelming sensation that accompanies this early darkness, as the night enve- lopes the Earth with its heavy velvet cloak. However, I also believe that this darkness can be beneficial. It beckons us back home, into the warmth of the hearth and the arms of family and friends. It provides us with great repose, allowing us time for reflection or personal projects in the long night. Most importantly, the darkness helps us appre- ciate the light -- the glorious light of fall -- so much more. September ends with a holi- day honoring the rhythmic darkness of autumn: the an- cient feast of Michaelmas. St. Michael's Day, also known as Michaelmas, falls on September 29% It com- memorates St. Michael the Archangel, who is often de- picted holding scales in his hands. The scales are remi- niscent of the balance be- tween light and darkness that occurs around the autumnal equinox, marking this day with seasonal as well as r'eli- gious significance. Indeed, in many traditions Michaelmas serves as a sort of harvest fes- tival, dedicated to specific foods. In England, for example, roast goose is the dish asso- ciated with Michaelmas, and a superstition declares that those who eat goose on St. Michael's Day will have money all year long. Carrots and oat cakes, on the other hand, were the preferred Michaelmas staples among the medieval Scots. In Italy, this feast is known as il Giorno di San Michele l'Arcangelo. A harbinger of fall, Michaelmas signals the start of colder weather and the be- ginning of the school year for Italians. It also a feast day peppered with a number of seasonal proverbs, many re- lated to food or weather. One famous Michaelmas dictum states that a San Michele, l'uva ~ come il miele -- mean- ing that on St. Michael's Day, the grapes are as sweet as honey, speaking to the grape harvest underway around now. Another proverb ex- plains that a San Michele, il calore va in cielo, literally say- hag that the heat goes up into the sky on Michaelmas. This particular proverb reminds Italians of, the cool autumn weather that will only inten- sify after St. Michael's Day, When I think of St. Michael, I think of the small white church dedicated to the saint nestled among the moun- tains in my father's home- town of Sulmona. In Italy, saints are deeply entrenched in the fabric of everyday life, lending renowned meaning to food, traditions and the pas- sage of time. The holiday of Michaelmas heralds darker, cooler au- tunm days. Rather than allow FUNCTION FACILITY Specializing in the art of celebration Wedding, Anniversary, Quinceaffera, Reunion, Birthday, Social and Corporate Events. Convenient location and valet parking makes Spinelli's East Boston the perfect location. We are dedicated to the highest level of service and professionalism to ensure the success of your special occasion. 280 Bennington Street, East Boston, MA Please Call 617-567-4499 spinellis.com the darkness to metaphori- cally overtake me, however, I choose to honor and respect it as a necessary part of the season. When the tenebrous night sky ushers me into the comforts of my home, I love to spend that time baking in the warmth and coziness of my kitchen. Usually the summer heat is not condu- cive to baking, but the crisp and dusky fall nights make me want to linger in the kitchen as delectable autum- nal scents -- apples and pears and tangy spices -- fill the air. In fact, every year I make gingersnap cookies for Michaelmas, as ginger is an- other ingredient connected to the holiday and a staple in the sumptuous medieval feasts that once marked au- tumn festivals. The darkness of fall excites me for the mysteries still present in the world today, for spine-tingling spooky story and the retelling of olden legends. How power- ful would Halloween be, after all, without the shivering sense of anticipation brought on by the shadowy night? Finally, the shortening days cause us to appreciate the light even more. Knowing that the day will end so early, I love to gaze upon the butter-yellow glow of late afternoon sunlight shining through the colorful leaves. This appreciation for the sun fuels the symbolism behind the upcoming winter holidays --Advent, St. Lucy's Day, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwan- zaa, New Year's Eve -- that emphasize that light break- ing the darkness. Without the long nights that occur af- ter the autumn equinox, such a deep-rooted symbolism with all of its implications to the human consciousness would be lost. The season of autumn pro- vides us with many reasons to celebrate. The beauty of leaves bursting with red and orange and golden hues is truly breathtaking. The har- vest grants us a bounty of food to make and share, gen- erously bringing forth tart apples and creamy pump- kins. However, we should add the lengthening evenings to the list of things we appre- ciate about fall. Darkness encourages us to spend time with loved ones or in the peace of our own home, re- flecting on what is dear to us. It opens our eyes to the spooky mysteries of the world, enough to bring out the inner child that dwells with- in us all. And the darkness causes us to appreciate the light which nourishes us ev- ery day and comprises a ba- sic need in our human exist- ence. An old proverb wisely proclaims that it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness -- so let us keep lighting our candles, made of love and family and Earth's abundance, all season long. Ally Di Censo Symynkywicz is a Graduate Student in, History at the University of Massachu- setts Boston. She ilppreciates any comments and suggestions about Italian holidays and folk- lore at adicenso89@gmaiLcom. , -%" I by Sal Giarratani Her Name Was Bella I was sickened by the news that Baby Doe was actually Bella Bond from Dorchester and that she was allegedly killed by the mother's boyfriend, who reportedly thought the little girl was possessed by a demon. In reality, Bella was killed by demons responsible for her well-being. I am not usually a big fan of Peter Gelzinis, but his Boston Herald column on September 19a had to be one of his very best. He told it like it was with no sugar coating. For 85 days, Bella went uni- dentified as Baby Doe. Where were family members, where were the neighbors, and where was the Department of Children and Family Services? We now know that DCF did review all open cases with a child of that age, but they did not review closed cases. However, had this been done, this little girl would not have gone nameless for almost three months. Gelzinis was so correct in his lashing commentary of both family members, friends and neighbors. A little girl was thrown out in a trash bag like a piece of garbage and it didn't seem to even register with family members and neighbors that a little girl the same age as Bella Bond had been found dead at Deer Island in Winthrop. One Dorchester neighbor said he didn't connect the two children since the baby was found so far from Dorchester. The value of life has been so cheapened in recent decades. A little girl was thrown out like garbage and a little girl went missing from sight and no one connected the dots or apparently wanted to connect them. We need to become a real society which cares for one another. We were once, and can be again. 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The Project will replace the approximately 223-space surface parking lot on the north side of the site with a three- level, approximately 379- space, below grade parking garage MAIL TO: CHRISTOPHER TRACY Boston Redevelopment Authority One City Hall Square, 9th Floor Boston. MA 02201 PHONE: 617.918.4259 EMAIL: Christopher.Tracy@boston,gov CLOSE OF COMMENT PERIOD: Thursday, October 15, 2015