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November 7, 2014     Post-Gazette
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November 7, 2014
 

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Page 4 POST-GAZETTE, NOVEMBER 7, 2014 November l lth: Exploring the Heart of the Month by Ally Di Censo Symynkywicz The month of November 7 In Italy, St. Martin's Day, . J .... encompasses two faces, known as il Giorno di San by Sa/Glarratam similar to a copper penny. Ir Martino, is the day when One face of November in- volves the countdown to the frenzy and joy of the holiday season. Commercials featur- ing jangling jingle bells and shiny wrapped Christmas gifts are already beginning to inundate television chan- nels. When my best friend and I visited the mall the day after Halloween, evergreen boughs and white-gold elec- tric lights draped along every balcony and column. The sec- ond face of November is its most immediate however. This is the gray November of early winter, when cloudy skies disguise the early-set- ting sun. This is the Novem- ber when chilly winds blow the last scraggly yellow leaves off the trees and geese plaintively call from above as they fly south. Too often, we only pay attention to the bright holiday face of Novem- ber, trying desperately to rush into the festivities of No- vember, which we forget to appreciate the beauty of the present month. The blustery days of November carry their own sense of beauty and sig- nificance. They encourage us to reflect on the cycle of nature, the memory of the past and beckon us to spend time with loved ones. Right in the middle of the month, the special date of November I I th encapsulates all that is powerful and meaningful about this time of the year. When I was preparing my desk calendar for November, I drew a little American flag on the eleventh day of the month. I wanted to honor Veterans' Day, the most well known commemoration-tak- ing place on this date. Origi- nally Armistice Day, Veter- ans' Day celebrations began as a way to honor the end of the First World War, when peace was declared on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Nowadays, this holiday serves as a reminder of the heroic sacrifices our veter- ans -- of all wars -- have undertaken on behalf of the country. One of my co-work- ers is a veteran and conducts an assembly every year ag with other teachers who had served in the armed forces. The assembly in- cludes speeches by those who witnessed war first hand, music provided by the school's band and chorus, and testimonies from veterans of all ages. I am eager to bring my classes to this event so that my young students will grow in gratefulness and ap- preciation towards these brave men and women, and so that knowing the horrors of war they will be more likely to strive towards peace. Veterans' Day can also be a somber occasion, honoring the soldiers who died on duty. Indeed, in ancient Europe the whole month of Novem- ber was completely dedicated to the commemoration of the dead. As the vegetation with- ers around us and the year sighs its way to a close, our minds drift to matters of memory and the past. This Veterans' Day, we should all keep the sacrifices of our veterans, living and dead, close to our hearts, and ex- press our deepest thanks for the freedoms they provided. Moreover, we should carry this gratitude with us all year long, for the courage of our military men and women is never confined to just one day. November 11 th is also the date of a holiday which hear- kens back to the Middle Ages. St. Martin's Day, often known as Martinmas, honors St. Martin of Tours, a fourth-cen- tury French bishop. All across Europe, Martinmas func- tions as an agricultural as well as religious holiday, an occasion marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the winter. As such, St. Martin's Day is of- ten celebrated with feasts of hearty autumnal delicacies and family reunions. In Cen- tral Europe and Scandinavia, goose is the dish of choice, often stuffed with fall staples such as chestnuts. The use of goose stems from a legend regarding St. Martin, which states that the humble man hid in a goose pen when he was reluctant to accept the position as bishop. In Ger- many and the Netherlands, children dress up and partici- pate in processions bearing lanterns, while in Poland people feast on croissants filled with poppy seeds and almond paste. However, St. Martin's Day retains a very strong association with wine. \\;0. Real Estate Matt6o Gallo Appraisals Sales & Rentals 376 North Street * Boston, MA 02113 (617) 523-2100 Fax (617) 523-3530 people sample the new wine of the year. My father always repeated the proverb "San Martino, si fa il vino," mean- ing that wine is made on Martinmas. Another Italian proverb simply and suc- cinctly declares: "San Martino, castagne e vino," which translates to "St. Mar- tin, chestnuts and wine." These proverbs speak to the Italian love of seasonal food and traditions with deep roots in the old agricultural-based society. I too celebrate St. Martin's Day with comforting Italian autumn recipes. For several years now I have been making pumpkin gnocchi on this day from a recipe in my much-beloved copy of Festa by Helen Barolini. As the scent of nut- meg and browned butter wafts through the kitchen, I feel a special kinship to my ancestors who battled the darkness and cold of winter with cozy meals and the love of family. Martinmas is spe- cial to me because it honors both sides of November. Its emphasis on the harvest and the commencement of win- ter teaches me to appreciate the uniqueness of the month, while its customs of feasting prove a tantalizing foreshadowing of the holiday season to come. November is a month of many delights and much significance, despite the fact that many people view it as simply a cold and gray tran- sitional point to the festivals of December. However, if we pay special attention to the hidden wonders of the month, we will find them most rewarding. The sight of bare branches across a cloudy sky and the pale yel- low light of the afternoon sun encourage me to pause and reflect on the past year, evaluating my goals and desires. The cold evenings beckon me back home, cre- ating treats in my kitchen or enjoying the irreplaceable company of loved ones. November 11 th is a special date for recognizing the uniqueness of the month. During Veterans' Day, we honor the bravery, courage and sacrifice of America's military men and women, an action we should undertake all year long. On Martinmas, we prepare for the coming winter while reveling in traditional foods and feasts with our family. By observ- ing these commemorations, we will discover the warm and loving heart beneath November's chilly exterior. 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. DRIVERS CDL-A Do you want more than $1000 a Week? Excellent Monthly Bonus Program/Benefits. Weekend Hometime you Deserve./ Electronic Logs/Rider Program. 877-704-3773 REMEMBERING MAYOR MENINO AND HIS PASSION FOR BOSTON Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Sal Giarratani at the State of the City Address on January 29, 2013 at Faneuil Hall. The last time I was at Faneuil Hall to see Mayor Thomas Menino was Janu- ary 29, 2013 when I waited in a long line to be present for Mayor Menino's record- breaking State of the City address. He had already been battling a series of medical setbacks, but that night he strolled into the hall to de- liver a powerful speech look- ing forward to Boston's best days ahead. He marched in to a tune stating, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger." On that night, a few months before the hor- rific Boston Marathon Bomb- ings, he was already "Boston Strong." At the end of the evening's speech, I went up for a mo- mentary conversation to thank him for all he had done for Boston in public service, both as mayor and city coun- cilor since 1983. A friend of mine, Don Harney from the mayor's press office grabbed that moment with his cam- era for me. Previous to that, I remem- ber catching him in the North End getting a haircut from Gino Colafella, Gino or Johnny "Shoes" Cammarata cut the mayor's hair for about 31 years. The place is still called "Johnny & Gino's" but Johnny retired a few years back. On that day, Johnny wasn't around and I kidded the mayor if Johnny knew he now liked the way Gino did his hair. Menino (Photo by Don Harney) laughed and told me if Johnny's hand wasn't shak- ing so much holding the scis- sors, he still might be cutting his hair. The mayor added he didn't like to see blood in a barber shop. I said "Goodbye, Mr. Mayor" and he said "Goodbye Sal." I was back in Faneuil Hall this past Sun- day to once again say "Goodbye Mr. Mayor." This time the lines there were even longer than back on that January evening in 2013. Over the years, I have bumped into the mayor on several occasions. We met at the groundbreaking dedica- tion of the new Mass. Mental Health Center near Brigham & Women's Hospital a few years back when I showed up in my police uniform and got a great shot of him and me together. Countless times we have met. He and I both knew we weren't always on the same page. Sometimes, he loved what I wrote, other times not so much; Actually, my prized photo of the mayor now hangs inside Doyle's Pub in Jamaica Plain where I hang on the Wall of Fame with Menino, Bob Consalvo and Angelo Sciacca. He was mayor for five terms and took Boston into a new century of life. He will be remembered as both a legend and for his compassion, and his handiwork is all over Bos- ton. He will not be forgotten. 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