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-, .f' "'t " ,'. "', "" *. "qY'l?. ", , ,I% Page 4- POST-G..ZE'I'TE, SEPTEMBER 27, 2013 Michaelmas and the End of September by Ally Di Censo Symynkywicz The Italian calendar, both years ago, one of the most goose with Michaelmas, and culturally and seasonally, striking aspects of the town a number of superstitions " " revolves around saints. Each was its position nestled sprang from this custom. day boasts its own patron saint, and reminders pepper the pages of almanacs, newspapers and naming traditions all across Italy. Italian families may adopt their own patron saints as well -- favorite saints whose stories or symbolism, reso- nate with them. My father, for example, derives a lot of strength and hope from Padre Pio, a popular Italian saint whose feast day occurs on September 23 yd. He loves to visit the Padre Pio statue at St. Leonard's in the North End, a beautiful calm church with golden-hued art and intricate wood beams. Be- cause saints permeate the culture so much, they have become not just religious touchstones of Italian soci- ety but folkloristic ones too. Feast days often coincide with major seasonal and agricultural events, and the legends or attributes sur- rounding the saints take on a symbolic meaning. At the end of September, one such saint day that carries a lot of folkloristic weight is Michaelmas. Michaelmas occurs on September 29 a, and it hon- ors St. Michael the Archan- gel and all angels as well. This day also holds special significance with my father, as his childhood parish in Sulmona, Italy, was named after St. Michael. While tak- ing a class in medieval his- tory this past summer, I learned that churches dedi- cated to St. Michael often reside on hilltops and high ground, due to his status as a Heavenly Angel. Indeed, when I visited Sulmona among wise, darkened hills, which reminded me of silent guardians. Harkening back to the agricultural traditions which marked the agrarian society of yore, Italians still repeat a number of weather and farming proverbs related to Michaelmas-or la festa di San Michele l'Arcangelo in Italian. One such proverb states that "Per San Michele, l'uva  come il miele," mean- ing that grapes are like honey on St. Michael's Day, speaking to the peak of the grape harvest around this time. Another widespread saying attests that ",4 San Michele il calore va in cielo," or that the hot weather leaves during this time of the year. Yet another proverb claims that by Michaelmas, there will be many chestnuts underfoot, paying homage to that delicious Italian au- tumn staple. These proverbs indicate the ubiquitous and fascinating melding of popu- lar religion and seasonal folklore in Italian culture. All around the world, in fact, Michaelmas has be- come strongly associated with autumnal delights and end-of-the-harvest festivi- ties. Perhaps this is because the most common iconogra- phy of St. Michael depicts him holding the scales with which souls are judged, symbolically linking him to the balance of light and dark that occurs around the autumn equinox. In medi- eval England, Michaelmas formed an important part of the agricultural year and boasted masquerades and banquets. Modern England still associates the eating of One of them declares that a person who eats goose on Michaelmas will have money all year long, while another attempts to predict winter weather from the color of the goose breastbone -- white indicates a mild season, while a blue or dark tinge presages bitter cold. Since I am a vegetar- ian, I content myself with the other ingredient con- nected to Michaelmas, gin- ger. This is the day when I make gingersnaps, spiced with the warm and soothing blend of cinnamon, brown sugar and cloves. As the aroma fills my kitchen, I reflect on how this holiday signifies the end of the har- vest season and the begin- ning of late fall's crisp air and colorful trees. Italian culture affords each season a special folkloristic, cultural and agricultural significance. Saints' days are one of the ways Italians blend historic religion with seasonal and agrarian milestones. The highly sym- bolic nature of these festivi- ties imbues their celebra- tions with a great meaning that resonates through all the desires of mankind. Michaelmas, for example, speaks to the need for har- vest and sustenance, bal- ance, and communal gath- erings as the nights grow longer. It is a feast day burst- ing with the pleasures and rhythms of cool autumn days. The more we allow our- selves to commemorate the smallest holidays, the greater our pleasure of life and our awareness of the Earth's cycles will blossom. 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. J oi Salon Brings Joy to Nazzaro Center L-R: Briana Norwood, Jensy Padilla, Jessica Chisholm, (presenting the check), JoAnn Vincent and Keri Strober. For the second year in a row, Joi Salon on Atlantic Avenue, Boston, made the Nazzaro Center the benefi- ciary of their annual fund- raiser. At their gathering on a beautiful August evening that drew more than 100 people, the staff held a raffle and sold products with a percentage of the pro- ceeds going to the Nazzaro Center's after school pro- gram. Nazzaro Center Direc- tor Carl Ameno received a check for $1,700 from the Carl Ameno, Erica Harris Joi Salon staff. The Nazzaro center is extremely grateful to Joi Salon for their donation and would like to thank the entire staff for their gener- osity and thoughtfulness as a neighborhood partner. Mental Health's Long Spiral Down to Dante's Inferno I recently retired this past April after more than 40 years of service to the De- partment of Mental Health in both direct care and support services, the last 27 years as a DMH police officer. Work- ing that long, you get a great appreciation of good mental health. You get to see on a daily basis how fragile the human mind is. Also, how much we all take our sanity for granted. The recent murder of Amy Lord from South Boston showed what can happen when someone who is a dan- ger to themselves and oth- ers lives among us. In a Boston's Sunday Globe page one story on the alleged killer, the Globe stated "the accused killer gave many warning signs of escalating mental troubles, a psycho- logical disorder character- ized by hostility and defiant behavior." Now, fast forward to Mon- day, September 16 th in Washington, DC at the Navy Yard when a shooter named Aaron Alexis reportedly opened fire inside Building 197 at the Washington Navy Yard a few blocks from the US Capitol killing 12 people before police took him out. It now appears that as the story evolves that Alexis had made bizarre statements to local police in Rhode Island about the hotel walls, ceiling and floors taunting him, keeping him from sleeping and that his microwave oven was also actually a GPS bringing bad guy to get him. He clearly sounded tor- mented, didn't he? The local police depart- ment informed the U.S. Navy via an incident report of what it witnessed. The question now is what did U.S. Navy officials do with that information? Was the sub-contractor that Alexis worked for notified and did anyone think his high secu- rity clearance should be re-evaluated? Did someone or many drop the ball and why? The most recent reports clearly show that Alexis looked like he was crying for help and the cries went unheeded. The bizarre be- havior reported to the police about voices and his two trips to a VA Hospital show he knew something was not right. However, the Vet- erans Affairs officials in both outpatient visits stated he never talked about those voices or if he was con- cerned for his well being or that of others. Aaron Alexis is no dif- ferent than other recent mass shooters who killed numerous people at strip malls, movie theaters or school houses. Part of tile problem over the past 30 years is how the mental health system views its clients. For starters, these people are now being called consumers rather than patients because of the so-called stigma of mental issues. This political cor- rectness in and of itself seems psychotic in that while most mental ill wish to be partners in their own recovery, there are some who are unable to do this. What of them? Do we let the bottom drop out? Or do we do all we can to help them in their tortured lives? We as a society cannot be innocent by-standers as de-compensa- tion takes hold of someone's mind. For their own sakes and society. Years ago after 33 years in direct care of the mentally ill, I saw people often at their very worst and their very best. I have had to struggle with people who later come back and apologize for their lack of control. I have always respected those fighting their mental illness and encouraged such action on their part. Most people want to be a part of their own recovery and there are those who needed added assis- tance and encouragement to do so. I developed a theory years ago called i'he Five Minutes to Midnight Pattern" where in most of the mentally ill live their lives in quiet desperation at 11:55 pm and die unnoticed by the world, there are others who crash and move the minute hand those last five minutes and do some awful things. The object of mental health for many is never seeing the minute hand close those last five minutes. Mental illness like alcoholism is never cured, it is just managed. Too often those with severe mental illness live their lives through a cycle of hospital- izations, skipped medication and then re-hospitalization. They deny they have a psychiatric disorder, refuse treatment and cascade into manic behavior that can be harmful to themselves or others. Could any of these recent violent mass shooters have been stopped before getting to that point of action? Who, knows. However, all these recent shooters all look alike in their actions lead- ing up to the carnage they inflicted. Faces and names are different but not the ac- tions and chronic bizarre behavior. Talking about stronger gun control measures isn't a cure for this violence and blaming Republicans and sequestration as the mayor of Washington, DC reacted following the Navy Yard shootings this is not help- ful and throws politics into a situation that needs to find real answers to stop the next Aaron Alexis from happening. WWW.BOSTON POSTGAZETTE.COM