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September 26, 2014     Post-Gazette
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September 26, 2014

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Page 4 POST-GAZETTE, SEPTEMBER 26, 2014 L'Anno BeUo: A Year in Italian Folklore ! Finding Light in the Darkness respect it as a necessary part of the season. When the ...... , tenebrous night sky ushers by Sal Giarratani 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 sudden onset of fall and the approaching winter. Several of my family members started to bemoan the dark- ness that, perhaps more than anything, truly heralds the arrival of the autumnal days. I can certainly under- stand the often overwhelm- ing sensation that accompa- nies this early darkness, as the night envelopes the Earth with its heavy velvet cloak. However, I also be- lieve 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 pro- vides us with great repose, allowing us time for reflec- tion or personal projects in the long night. Most impor- tantly, the darkness helps us appreciate the light -- the glorious light of fall -- so much more. September ends with a holiday honor- ing the rhythmic darkness of autumn: the ancient feast of Michaelmas. St. Michael's Day, also known as Michaelmas, falls on September 29 th. 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 au- tumnal equinox, marking this day with seasonal as well as religious signifi- cance. Indeed, in many tra- ditions Michaelmas serves as a sort of harvest festival, dedicated to specific foods. In England, for example, roast goose is the dish associated 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 beginning of the school year for Italians. It's also a feast day peppered with a number of seasonal prov- erbs, many related to food or weather. One famous Michaelmas dictum states that a San Michele, l'uva come il miele -- meaning 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 saying that the heat goes up into the sky on Michael- mas, this particular prov- erb reminds Italians of the cool autumn weather that will only intensify 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 mountains in my father's hometown of Sulmona. In Italy, saints are deeply entrenched in the fabric of everyday life, lend- ing renowned meaning to food, traditions and the pas- sage of time. The holiday of Michaelmas heralds darker, cooler au- tum days. Rather than allow the darkness to meta- phorically overtake me, how- ever; I choose to honor and 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 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 conducive to baking, but the crisp and dusky fall nights make me want to linger in the kitchen as delectable autumnal scents -- apples and pears and tangy spices -- fill the air. In fact, every year I make gingersnap cookies for Michaelmas, as ginger is another ingredient con- nected to the holiday and a staple in the sumptuous medieval feasts that once marked autumn festivals. The darkness of fall excites me for the mysteries still present in the world today, for spine-tingling spooky stories and the retelling of olden legends. How powerful 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 holi- days- Advent, St. Lucy's Day, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year's Eve -- that emphasize that light breaking the darkness. Without the long nights that occur after 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 eve- nings to the list of things we appreciate about fall. Dark- ness encourages us to spend time with loved ones or in the peace of our own home, reflecting on what is dear to us. It opens our eyes to the spooky mysterious of the world, enough to bring out the inner child that dwells within us all. And the dark- ness causes us to appreci- ate the light which nour- ishes us every day and com- prises a basic need in our human existence. An old proverb wisely proclaims that it is better to light a candle than curse the dark- ness -- so let us keep light- ing our candles, made of love and family and Earth's abun- dance, all season long. 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 What is The other day while driv- ing through Jamaica Plain near Egleston Square, I no- ticed a large billboard asking the question, "What is truth?" The first thing that came to mind was Pontius Pilate. who after hearing Jesus say that He is the truth. Pilate retorts, "What is truth?" Sometimes I wonder about the concept of truth. Is there really something concrete called the TRUTH. Or is everything relative, even the truth. Earlier in my life, there seemed to be constants. Right, wrong, good, bad, left or right. However, today everything we took for granted in a world of abso- lutes doesn't seem close to absolute anymore. No one likes a liar be- cause such folks can never be trusted to even know what the truth is. They say what they think we want to hear or just what they ac- tually want to tell us. Meteo- rologists do this all the time. Promising us a great weekend on Wednesday, but only to tell us on Sunday night how the bad weekend wasn't really their fault. Blame nature, blame the computers, blame anyone but themselves. I observed something else at the end of last week. While driving on Centre Street in West Roxbury near St. Theresa of Avila Church, I noticed the church's steeple and was reminded of a recent repeat I watched on BCTV. It was a vintage epi- sode of Archbishop Fulton Sheen's "Life is Worth Liv- ing." A half-hour TV show from the Fifties. On the Truth? show, Sheen was talking about seeing God in our lives. He said many look to God on high. He mentioned that God wasn't up there atop a church steeple look- ing towards heaven, but rather down on the ground with everyone else. God wasn't there, but here. That was the truth as spoken by Sheen. But it was "truth" many of us can't see even to this day. What he spoke of is still relevant today. We all need to live together in peace and harmony. Sharing in this wonderful gift of life. The truth is in front of us in the values we live our lives by. Treating others with dignity. There are many people out there with their own views. We can't change others. We can communicate our values and share our thoughts. On this road of ours, we must search for truth and mean- ing every second of every day. We should be able to debate others without los- ing sight of the truth that matters. The truth is, no one is guaranteed tomorrow. All we have to work with is today. Even yesterday becomes meaningless because it is history. To be truthful, we may never know what truth is. For the rest of us, we search for it by not looking up to heaven but by looking at each other, helping each other down here on the side- walks of our meager lives. Here is one truth most of us share. We all want to get into heaven, but not today. That's the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God. M From YBakery Perch Ist Generation Italian-American Vita Orlando Sinopoli Shares with us a delightful recollection of her memories as a child growing up in Boston's "Little Italy" and a collection of Italian family recipes from the homeland. Great as Gifts FROM MY BAKERY PERCH available on AMAZON. COM and in local bookstores -- ask for Hard cover #1-4010-9805-3 ISBN Soft Cover #1-4010-9804-5 1SBN AI"rENTION ATTORNEYS The POST-GAZETTE newspaper is a paper of general circulation. We are qualified to accept legal notices from any court in each town that we serve. For information on placing a Legal Notice in the POST-GAZETTE, please call (617) 227-8929; or mail notice to: POST-GAZETTE, P.O. BOX 135, BOSTON, MA 02113 Attn: Legal Notices