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PAGE POST-GAZETTE, DECEMBER 30, 2016 L'Anno Bello: A Year in Italian Folklore Welcome to the New Year/ by Ally Di Censo Symynkywicz Sometimes, it appears as if the bulk of our Christmas festivities end the moment we flip over the December 25~ calendar page. Gone are "Jingle Bells" and "All I Want for Christmas is You" from the radio, replaced by the steady rotation of everyday hits and standards. Gone are the tanta- lizing unwrapped presents from beneath the tree, having now been revealed of the surprises within. However, contrary to popular perception, the season of Christmas actually lasts for a much longer time. As the old car- ol about the three French hens can attest, Christmas continues for twelve days after the proper feast ends. The real close of the Christmas season occurs on January 6~, or the holiday of the Epiphany. Italians afford each of the Twelve Days of Christmas a special significance. December 264, for example, is the feast day of St. Stephen, and Italians celebrate la festa di San Stefano by visiting family or going siding in mountain resorts. For me, the Twelve Days of Christmas contain a magical and enchanted quality, laden with the sensa- tion of being far removed from the bustle and grind of ordinary days. I spend the Twelve Days of Christmas in a haze, taking ad- vantage of the vacation to catch up on grading, eat leftovers from the Christmas dinner, shop in blissfully uncrowded stores, and visit family members who have arrived from overseas. However, I also prepare for the most myste- rious feasts of the Twelve Days of Christmas: the twinned holidays of New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Bursting with folklore and tradition, these holidays seek to welcome a new beginning with hope and luck. New Year's Eve carries a dis- tinct and unique feeling from other days of the year, a strong atmosphere of anticipation and excitement. It is an aura that imbues the ordinary activities people undertake" during the day on New Year's Eve -- walking the dog, going to the grocery store, visiting the hair salon -- with a captivating patina of both nos- talgia and enthusiasm, propelled by the knowledge that the old year will soon give way to a new and exciting chapter. Even the twilight sky seems different on New Year's Eve, glowing with a jewel-like blue tone indicative of the unhurriedly lengthening days. The tangible peculiarity of New Year's Eve gave birth to a plethora of luck-themed folk traditions related to the holiday. New Year's Eve is a time inher- ently rife with insecurity as we ponder whether the upcoming year will be worse or better than the last; sundry superstitions seek to improve good fortune within the next twelve months. The practice of making a lot of noise at the stroke of midnight, reflected in the abundant party horns and noisemakers of today, derives from the ancient belief that supernatural creatures wandered the Earth during times of transition. Loud noises could effectively scare these evil spirits away. Certain foods also possess lucky qualities for the New Year. In Italy, lentils are considered an auspicious food for New Year's Eve, since they are thought to resemble small coins, and as such attract prosperity. They are usually paired in a dish contain- ing a spicy pork sausage known as cotecchino. My grandmother fondly remembers a more un- usual luck ritual practiced in the olden days in Italy on la Notte di San Silvestm ("St. Sylvester's Night" -- this is what Italians call New Year's Eve, since December 31st is also the feast day of the fourth century Pope Sylvester I). She had to exercise great caution walking through the streets of Naples, where she was a board- ing school student in the 1940s, during this night, as people tossed old and broken items out the windows in order to ring in the New Year with a fresh start! Owned and operated by Pamela Donnaruma, Publisher, Post-Gazette Public Insurance Adjuster 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 I am not throwing anything out of my windows, but I do love to celebrate the New Year in a folksy and traditional manner with my family. We gather together and enjoy a special meal that ends with my chocolate-vanilla mar- bled ring cake for dessert. Ring cakes are yet another lucky food for this feast, since their shape symbolizes the cycle of the year. I enjoy hearing my grandmother tell stories about the quirky tra- ditions that characterized New Year's Eve in her small Italian hometown, such as sweeping out the door with a broom at midnight in order to chase away the old year. Sometimes my fam- fly plays Bingo together, known as tombola in Italian. Games of chance are popular components of New Year's festivities around the world, for they mimic the unpredictable thrill of good fortune. We watch the televised New Year's celebration in New York, and When the famed Times Square ball finally drops at mid- night, we hug, kiss, and wish each other a happy New Year. This is my favorite tradition, as it reminds me that being sur- rounded by the love of family and friends is the best wish I can ask for all year! New Year's Day is far more low-key. Known as Capodanno, or "head of the year" in Italian, this is a day devoted to recuperating from the previ- ous night's parties. Superstition advises that the way you start the New Year is the way you will end it, so I like to spend New Year's Day doing a little bit of all the things I love, such as writing, reading, baking, and watching a movie. New Year's Day is also laden with a unique and pleas- ant feeling. The sky seems bluer, the birds sing more loudly, and snow sparkles like diamonds on the ground. I believe the whole world is starting anew[ The twinned holidays of New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are purely magical, brimming with mystery, anticipation, and the electrifying hope of good fortune. They are two feasts of the Christmas season that shine with unique lore and traditions. They inspire us to start a new cycle encircled by the love of fam- ily and with a hopeful optimism in our hearts. By greeting the New Year with joy and goodwill, as customs around the world dictate, we are actually creating our own good fortune. Whether we feast on lentils or shout loudly at the stroke of midnight, New Year's traditions remind us that love and confidence are exactly what we need to equip our jour- ney into the unknown. Yes, it can prove frightening to leave behind the familiar and the comfortable and start fresh, but New Year's celebrations offer us the chance to improve our outlook on life. Without an ending, there can be no beginnings, or opportunities for journeys of self-discovery. This New Year's, surround your- self with loved ones and promise to carry an attitude of cheer and wonder for the next twelve months to come! Happy New Year to All! Buon Anno! 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 adicenso8 9@gmail. com. by Sal Giarratani "~ Out with the Old, In with the New Quotes to Note "Every day when you wake up and your feet hit the floor, it's a good day." -- Anon "One must wait until the evening to see how splendid the day has been." -- Sophocles post Recently, I was over at Doyle's am still here today. Some of my Caf6 over in Jamaica Plain for classmates died in that place the English High School Class called Vietnam. I went off to of '66 Reunion. Out of a class college at Boston State about of 465, 31 guys showed up for two blocks from where English the dinner gathering. It was was back then. Blue-on-Blue all over again as The price of everything back we sang the praises of Boston then was great, and so too was English, the 184 oldest public college tuition. My first real job high school in America going was during high school when back to 1821. I worked at the Green Shoe However, I digress. What I Factory (Stride Rite) in lower was trying to get to was the fact Roxbury. It's long gone now. that 50 years have passed for Everything's made in China me since my graduation back in today. those olden days. We all looked My daughter got married in a bit different. We aged, which 2016, which means time has is always better than not aging, flown fast, hasn't it? I remem- ff you get my drift, ber taking her to the bus stop Most of us apparently did waiting for the yellow school quite well in life. Some realized bus to show up to take her to our dreams. Others made new kindergarten. dreams. I thought I was go- The New Year is here, and a ing to be a lawyer back then. clean slate. Only God knows I ended up in law, but it was what lies ahead. Our job is to behind a badge. I did 28 years continue getting up every day as a police officer and it was until God puts a stop to that my brother Dominic, Class of morning ritual. I don't want to '68, who ended up an attorney, live forever, but I would like to Hey, at least my dream stayed hang around to see Boston go in the family, under water later this century I ended up winning a cool according to all the crazy cli- hoodie in a raffle, and it fits me mate control folks. I hear it will quite well. Another member of happen sometime in the 2090s. the Class of '66 won the raffle, Of course, I would be close to a too. His choice, the hoodie or 150 years old by then. I hope I a baseball cap. I looked at him am still driving by then, but it and told him to select the cap. might be a boat, huh? Some of us added poundage By the way, nobody is plan- over the decades, ning Our 75th high school Christmas, Hanukkah, and reunion yet. We're all just go- all the holidays that end the old ing to wait and see if we have year gives us time to reflect on to do it. our past with continued hopes Meanwhile, enjoy the life for the future. We are, however, youYe got, the friends you have, planning another get-together and the family you can never get later in the fall of 2017. After rid of. Be happy, enjoy the good all, none of us is getting any days, and offer up the bad ones younger, right? for all the wild oats you sowed I remember what 1966 was in your youth. like. Not that great, but not Have a great New Year and that bad either in retrospect, make arriving at the door of I enlisted in the U.S. Air Force 2017 a thing of joy. We've only right after graduation, and I gotonelffetolive, don't waste it. END iI PRIN tqC; 5 PRINCE STREET* NORTH END BOSTON, MAO2113 Quality Printing for all your Commercial and Personal Needs Stationery * Business Cards * Menus * Flyers Program Books * Wedding and Party Invitations Announcements * Business Forms and Documents --- COMPETITIVE PRICES m WWW. BOSTON POSTGAZ ETTE.CO M