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October 26, 2012     Post-Gazette
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October 26, 2012

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Page 8 POST-GAZETTE, OCTOBER 26, 2012 L'Anno Bello: A Year in Italian Folklore The True Meaning of Halloween by Ally Di Censo As soon as I flip my cal- endar page to the first day of October, I know that I have entered one of my favorite times of the year. Ever since I put on my first witch costume at age two, I fell in love with the holiday of Halloween. When I was younger, my favorite aspects of Halloween were the copi- ous amounts of candy and choosing which Disney prin- cess to emulate. Nowadays, I find so much more about the holiday to love -- bare branches silhouetted against a silent night sky, the aroma of pumpkin bread baking in my kitchen, the eerie luminarias lining my fiance's driveway, the way trick-or- treaters' faces break into peppy grins when I drop snacks in their bags and the spine-tingling realization that there is still so much mystery in the world. Of course, one thing that has never changed is my devo- tion to chocolate, especially Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. However, my new-found ap- preciation of the holiday teaches me to look beyond the blatant commercial- ization of Halloween and embrace the lessons it teaches us about family and remembrance. Halloween is an ancient feast, one which resonates in our collective psyche due to its connections to the harvest, darkness and th'e approaching winter. Origi- nally celebrated by the Celts, Halloween was previously called Samhain (pronounced sow-en, where the "sow" rhymes with "cow"), a name which roughly translates to "summer's end." The Celts believed that Samhain ush- ered in the dark half of the calendar and it may have functioned as a celebration marking the New Year. Sup- posedly, the veil between the world of the living and the afterlife proved particularly thin during these tenebrous nights, and spirits, both good and bad, walked the earth. In order to frighten the evil spirits, the Celts lit bon- fires, wore masks and dis- guises and carved gruesome faces on turnips. The frag- ile distinction between the realms of the living and dead permitted the Celts to par- ticipate in divination activi- ties, many of which sought to predict the success of next year's harvest or of a romantic prospect. These ancient traditions infuse our modern Halloween festivi- ties with a supernatural edge and continue to manifest themselves in the American customs of telling ghost stories, wearing costumes and carving jack-o-lanterns. Halloween also has an Italian connection, as the popular game of bobbing for apples may come from the feasts honoring the Roman goddess Pomona, protector of orchards. Indeed, Halloween has become a somewhat popular holiday in Italy now and late-October visitors in large Italian cities will see shops lined with smiling pump- kins, pointy witch hats and black cat decorations. How- ever, the main Italian holi- days focusing on remember- ing the dead remain the feasts of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day, which fall on the two days following Halloween. These two cel- ebrations are intrinsically linked to Halloween; in fact, the contemporary name Hal- loween means "All Hallows' Eve" or the night before All Saints' Day. The custom of trick-or-treating may even "IF YOU'RE PASSIONATE ABOUT SOMETHING Passion Leads and Everything E/se Fo//ows!" -- Jake Steinteld. Body by Jake , W@/1 lOLl , IOUU , 781 286 CASH Per Ounce. 24K " " : We Buy Diamonds, Gold and Silver lewelry' We Buy Gold and Silver Coins j r  "/ OX 345 Broadway, Revere Cash in you Gold for Back to School Money d :: Hours lO-5:30 pm every day. Saturdays until 3:30 pm originate from the old English practice of souling in which people would walk door to door on the eve of All Souls' Day and receive a pastry known as a soul cake in exchange for prayers for the dead. Still, All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day serve as distinctive holidays in Italy where they are respec- tively known as Giorno di Tutti Santi and Giorno dei Morti and contain their own proper traditions. My father and my grandmother always tell me of childhood visits to the cemetery on these holidays during which they would clean (he graves and light candles in remem- brance of the deceased. In some areas of Italy, food is left outside overnight on the eve of All Souls' Day so that the wandering spirits may have something to eat. In other parts of Italy, people bake special cookies and biscuits to mark the occa- sion of All Souls' Day. I truly believe that the Celts and the Italians made an astute observation when they devoted the latter half of October to honoring their long-gone ancestors. In days of cold and darkness it is important to take comfort in the pleasures of family and memories of the past. This lesson particularly serves modern life well, when we are often so preoc- cupied with overly busy schedules and stress over minute details. Halloween allows us to pause and honor the presence and the wisdom of the ancestors which came before us. It provides us with a sense of belonging and imbues us with an unshakable feeling of community, past and present, which will help us weather the approaching winter. There is a profound meaning in the midst of our Halloween traditions and, to me, it is as comforting as a thick slice of pumpkin bread or a sincere thank you from a beaming, costumed child. Ally Di Censo is a Graduate Student in History at the Uni- versity of Massachusetts Bos- ton. She appreciates any com- ments and suggestions about Italian holidays and folklore at " Each item hand:picked to guarantee your child a Loed Ones friendly introduction to the language and culture of Italy. rJ Toys & Books and Newly DVDs & CDs Arrived Clothing Italian Pinocchio Imports The Post-Gazette accepts memorials throughout the year. Please call 617-22 7-8929 and ask for Lisa Saint Leonard Parish Annual Gala 2012 by Bennett Molinari The tempo of parish life picks up sharply in autumn and what better way to wel- come home vacationers than the annual Saint Leonard Parish dinner dance. This year's event took place on Saturday, October 20 a, as in past years, it was held at the All Hands Club, U.S. Coast Guard Base, North End where parishioners from Saint Leonard, Sacred Heart and Saint Stephen's, could come together in a congenial atmosphere of good food, pleasant surroundings and 'fine music. A cocktail hour at 6:30 pm gave attendees an opportu- nity to socialize and resume old friendships and check out some of the many items gen- erously donated for silent auction. Following cocktails, Father Antonio, Pastor of Saint Leonard Parish, greeted the guests and thanked the members of the Activities Committee for their contin- ued support. He then intro- duced Father Claude Scrima, Parochial Vicar, who gave the blessing. A delicious dinner, served by Marty's Caterers of Stone- ham, included an assort- ment of appetizers followed and Richard Molinari by salad and pasta. The entree was Garlic steak and chicken supreme served with roasted potatoes and string bean almandine; Tiramisu was served for dessert. Promptly at 9:00 pm, Carmine Guarino, chair- man of the Activities Com- mittee, announced the win- ners of the silent auction. Music was provided by Enzo Amara. Later in the fall, the an- nual Saint Leonard Parish Christmas Concert and Party will take place on Sunday, December 16 TM at 4:00 pm; as in past years, the performance will be held in the beautiful setting of the Sacred Heart upper church, 12 North Square, North End. The concert will feature the Saint Leonard Parish choir, The Polish Choir of Our Lady of Czestochowa from South Boston and the Children's Choir of Saint John School under the di- rection of Dan Drzymalski. Following the performance, concert attendees are in- vited to a Christmas party at Saint John Hall adjacent to the church. Tickets for the concert will be available in the near future. L NTS Boston Public Workswill coUect and compost residents' yard waste Seven weeks: October 15 - November 30 ON YOUR RECYCLING DAY. Place leaves in large paper leaf bags or open ba rrets marked "yard waste" For free "yard waste" stickers, call 617-635-4500 (up to 2 stickers available per household). ' m Cut branches to 3 maxl um length a , ,, nd 1 maximum diameter. Tie branches with string. Place leaves and yard waste ON YOUR RECYCLING DAY. Yard waste will not be collected during the two weeks before the Oct. 15 start date. Please hold onto your yard waste from Oct. 1 to Oct. 15, when collection begins. NO PtAS BAGS