Archive for October, 2013

La Bohème Throughout the Century

Posted on October 28th, 2013 by Anna in Uncategorized | No Comments »

When someone mentions opera, you may think of a classical piece that is mythical, romantic, and archaic, with a grandiose and melodramatic plot .  Giacomo Puccini’s masterpiece, La Bohème, is all of these and more, but its relatable storyline and flawed but charismatic characters make the opera one of the most widely beloved of all time.  First performed in 1896 at the Teatro Regio and conducted by Arturo Toscanini, La Bohème tells the story of four struggling artists living in the Latin Quarter of Paris during the 19th century.  The Italian libretto was written by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, based off of the novel by Henri Murger, Scènes de la vie de bohème.

La Boheme has been a favorite since its first performance in 1896.

La Boheme has been a favorite since its first performance in 1896.

The characters, with all their idiosyncrasies, are so charmingly dysfunctional that they remain some of the most enduring in the opera world to this day.  They are not gods or heroes or royalty; they are unemployed writers and intellectuals who get drunk, struggle to pay the rent, and fight with their significant others—all things that everyone can sympathize with, no matter what the time period.  The story revolves around relationships that are as moving and complex as they are in the modern day.  Rodolfo and Mimi love each other but keep trying to break up out of altruism.  Marcello and Musetta drive each other crazy but their chemistry keeps them getting back together.  Colleen and Schaunard occasionally show up for dinner  and comic relief, and no one is really sure why they’re there.

But while the emotions and socials interactions of La Bohème are familiar, their scope is taken to operatic extremes.  Rodolfo and Mimi’s on-and-off love isn’t just unfortunate—it’s doomed.  The friends’ antics—outsmarting the landlord, burning their art, running out on the bill in a fancy restaurant—go beyond mere shenanigans and become legend.  More than a simple love story, Rodolfo and Mimi’s tragic affair channels every love story that came before and after it.  And as for the music, Puccini’s score provides some of the most widely sung arias and leitmotifs in the realm of both classical music and pop culture; “Che Gelida Manino,” as well as “O soave fanciulla,” and “Musetta’s Waltz” have become iconic since their inception.



A scene from the lives of the lovers Rodolfo and Mimi, and Marcello and Musetta

Due to its massive popularity, La Bohème has been performed and recorded consistently for over a hundred years, drawing such renowned artists to perform as Luciano Pavarotti as Rodolfo  and the La Scala orchestra.  It’s inspired countless interpretations, including Baz Luhrmann’s modernization of the story for Opera Australia set in 1957 rather than the 1830’s, and was included in the soundtrack for Norman Jewison’s romantic comedy Moonstruck.  Also directly influenced by Puccini’s opera was Jonathan Larson’s Pulitzer prize-winning rock opera Rent, which depicts a group of impoverished artists living in New York City rather than Paris, living with AIDS rather than tuberculosis.  Offering audiences a more contemporary interpretation of the same story, Rent ran for 12 years and 5,123 performances on Broadway and won a Tony Award for Best Musical.  Still, nothing will ever replace the timeless story and evocative music of Puccini’s opera, which is sure to enjoy many stages and enchant opera-lovers for generations to come.

Ferrari: Racecar, Supercar, Legend

Posted on October 25th, 2013 by Anna in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Italians are renowned for their love of flashy colors, speed, and being the center of attention.  Small wonder then that some of the most coveted, sexy, and midlife-crisis-worthy sports cars are of Italian design.  The auto industry in Italy has as passionate, dramatic, and triumphant a history as the country itself, intriguing and infatuating millions of aficionados worldwide.  From the sensible yet alluring Fiat Panda, formerly voted European Car of the Year for its safety features and simple design, to the lithe and aggressive Maserati Bora, build for speed and style and capable of hitting over 175 mph, Italian auto manufacturers have not only designed the car for every individual’s needs, but they have perfected it.

The Ferrari is the world's most famous brand of Italian luxury car.

The Ferrari is the world’s most famous brand of Italian luxury car.

The name that tops all the lists in terms of aesthetics and luxury is Ferrari, a brand that began as a racecar manufacturer and since then has become one of the most exclusive and dynamic cars in the world.  Whether you prefer the more vintage designs, such as the Ferrari 308 GTB of Magnum P.I. fame, with its V8 mid-engine and four valves per cylinder, or its more modern incarnations, such as the 458 Spider, you cannot deny the Ferrari’s status as paragon of speed and opulence.

The Ferrari legacy began in 1938 when Enzo Ferrari, a producer and driver of racecars, joined up with the motor racing department of Alfa Romeo cars.  While Alfa Romeo was seized by Mussolini’s fascist regime to aid the war effort, the Ferrari division was still small enough to operate independently even during war times.  After the Axis’s defeat, Ferrari moved to Maranello, Italy and grew as it catered to a country eager to indulge in luxury and excess after their defeat.  Classic designs of the 60’s, such as the Ferrari GTO, combined looks and speed with a mystic rarity—only 36 of this model were built, urging auto-lovers to clamor for it all the more.

The Ferrari F40 is agreed to be Enzo Ferrari's greatest achievement.

The Ferrari F40 is agreed to be Enzo Ferrari’s greatest achievement.

In 1969, when Fiat bought 50% of Ferrari, the company saw a boom in investment money, giving them the opportunity to experiment with providing new models more powerful engines and sleeker designs—the age of the supercar had begun.  In 1988, Ferrari’s 40th anniversary, Enzo Ferrari released what is possibly the most famous supercar of all time, the Ferrari F40.  It originally sold at $400,000 (which would be more than double that in today’s currency,) but buyers have paid up to $1.6 million for one of only 1,315 models built.  With a perfectly aerodynamic frame and light weight of only 2,425 lbs, the Ferrari F40 can go from 0 to 120 mph in 11 seconds.

Enzo Ferrari died later that year, adding to the F40’s legendary status among Italian sports cars.  It has been hailed, and on Top Gear no less, as “the greatest supercar the world had ever seen,” and indisputably named one of the most beautiful cars ever made.  Currently, with environmental friendliness taking precedence over speed and power in the auto industry, Ferrari is looking into producing hybrids, and in 2008 they unveiled an F430 Spider that ran on biofuel.  Still, with Italy’s penchant for combining art with every aspect of daily life, whatever cars Ferrari creates are sure to remain works of art wheels: timeless masterpieces that change the lives of everyone who comes in contact with them.

Biscotti, From Ancient Tuscany To Contemporary Coffeehouse

Posted on October 21st, 2013 by Anna in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Ask any connoisseur of Italian pastries what the staple Italian dessert is, and they’ll probably say cannoli.  But coming in at a close second, a favorite of those who prefer their sweets to be less rich and more crunchy, are biscotti.  Originating from the city of Prato, biscotti are twice-baked almond biscuits that date back to the heyday of the Roman Empire, when Pliny the Elder described them as staying edible for centuries.  In fact, biscotti were the preferred fare of the Roman Legions, who used to pack them as rations for long military campaigns or wars.

biscotti (1)

Due to their widespread popularity, biscotti have lasted as a culinary favorite for thousands of years to become a staple shelf-filler at Starbucks worldwide.  The appreciation of biscotti saw a resurgence in the 19th century, when the Prato-based pastry chef Antonio Mattei shared his traditional recipe with the rest of the culinary world.  An incredibly simple mix of ingredients, without the addition of any milk, oil, or water, biscotti dough consists of flour, sugar, eggs, pine nuts, and raw almonds.  The mixture is then baked in a mass on a baking tray, and then, while still hot and soft, cut into slices and baked for a second round until they are lightly browned.  This gives the biscotti their signature dry, crunchy texture, making them ideal for dunking in coffee, milk, hot chocolate, tea, or any other beverage.  (Although traditionally, in Prato they are taken after dessert with a glass or orange juice, or with a fortified wine called santo vin.)

Although purists may insist on only the simplest of recipes, biscotti have inspired a myriad of variations and similar concoctions throughout the world.  For example, my aunt’s own signature brand of biscotti are mixed with cocoa and powdered coffee thrown in, then, once the batch has cooled, each biscotto is dipped into melted chocolate.  She also has a recipe where she adds nutmeg and orange zest and then coats the finished product with an orange glaze.  Other versions of biscotti can be baked with pistachios, hazelnuts, walnuts, anise, cinnamon, sesame seeds, allspice, vanilla, or virtually any ingredient you can imagine.


The traditional biscotti has gone on to inspire continental pastries and similar desserts in various surrounding countries.  In Catalonia they have the carquinyoli, from the French croquignole, which are similar twice-baked, bite-sized cookies with whole almonds thrown into the mix, and are generally served with sweet wines such as moscatell.  Valencia has the square-shaped rosegons, which are eaten as a late afternoon snack, generally with strong coffee to break through the sweetness. In Tuscany, the birthplace of biscotti, they have a similar confection called cantuccini, but this is actually a more savory, rustic bread, cooked with olive oil and anise and eaten as an antipasto.

Today biscotti are ubiquitous, and can be found anywhere from Italian delis to supermarkets to local coffeehouses.  While there are as many different recipes for biscotti as there are pastry chefs, nothing can beat the classic Tuscan style.  With their great flavor, the ease of baking them, and their unbeatable shelf-life, biscotti definitely stand their own among the great pastries of the world.

Excess and the Modern Life in La Dolce Vita

Posted on October 18th, 2013 by Anna in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Considered by many to be director Federico Fellini’s masterpiece, La Dolce Vita is a three-hour epic that captures the essence of Rome: it’s lavish, historic, jaded, elegant, cosmopolitan, and overflowing with bizarre characters and strange vignettes.  Fundamentally, it is an allegory of excess and the absurdities of the modern condition, the emotional sterility of the Italian postwar upper class.  Interpreted by many as a spoof of the second coming of Christ (the opening scene is a shot of a statue of Jesus being helicoptered across Rome to the Vatican,) La Dolce Vita was censored by the Vatican in Italy—who disliked its allegations about the morality of the aristocracy, which the Church was strongly intertwined with—and in Spain until Francisco Franco’s death.

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Marcello is a tabloid journalist living unhappily with a woman who habitually poisons herself to get his attention.  To escape the reality of his dissatisfying career and smothering relationship, he goes to many boring parties and has affairs with many boring women.  As Marcello struggles to overcome his alienation and disaffection—a condition which he is too self-absorbed to realize everyone around him shares—he becomes more and more disillusioned with the fruitlessness of his existence.

Many characters show up over the course of the film to give perspective to Marcello’s life, most memorably Sylvia, the tumescent Swedish-American film star/sex goddess who represents everything Marcello can never have: she is wealthy, universally adored, exotic, childish, overindulged, and perpetually thrilled with herself.  She flounces across Rome in over-the-top dresses, squealing with delight at everything she sees, performing endearingly airheaded antics like picking up a stray kitten in the back alleyways of Rome and rubbing it all over her face, and everyone immediately falls in love with her.  Even Fellini seems to be smitten with Sylvia’s character, as every shot involving her is sensuous, mysterious, almost musical.  The iconic scene where she climbs into the Fontana di Trevi, she is viewed as surreal and otherworldly as she symbolically “baptizes” Marcello.

Contrasting with the effervescent Sylvia is Emma, Marcello’s girlfriend, who expresses her love for him in the only way she knows how: by alternatively guilt-tripping him with her suicide attempts and mothering him incessantly.  Their relationship is juxtaposed against a Salem witch trial-esque bout of religious hysteria in the countryside, where amid a mob a pilgrims and fanatics it becomes evident to everyone but Emma that her life with Marcello is as hollow and false as the two children’s claim.


Marcello’s empty, self-indulgent life is reflected in both his father, who comes to visit and ends up going home with one of Marcello’s lovers, and his intellectual friend Steiner—a man whose bourgeois life Marcello admires—who shoots his children and then commits suicide.  After more ridiculous parties and wild debauches, Marcello finally confronts the ultimate metaphor for his existence: a dead, bloated stingray tangled in a net being devoured by crabs.  Extremely heavy and esoteric, La Dolce Vita is one of history’s great works of cinema in its unwavering look at the human condition, both satirical and sympathetic.  For those who have the patience to watch it, its message on morality and emotion is timeless, applicable to the modern life in any society.


The Tarantella: Dance, Music, and Legend

Posted on October 13th, 2013 by Anna in Uncategorized | No Comments »

The Tarantella is a traditional folk dance from the southern areas of Italy with a very distinctive, energetic sound. Typically played with a mandolin, guitar, accordion, and tambourine, the Tarantella varies from region to region but always maintains a vibrant, fast-paced melody. The tempo is normally in 6/8 time, with dancers taking triple steps, alternatively drawing together and moving apart from each other. The tune of the Tarantella Neapoletana is the most easily recognizable, if only because of its presence in The Godfather movies and pasta commercials, but there are many different versions from Calabria, Sicily, and other small, rural areas.

The Tarantella is a standard dance in Italian folklore.

The Tarantella is a standard dance in Italian folklore.

As legend has it, the Tarantella is a throwback to Bacchanalian rites of the pagan days from the Roman Empire. The Cult of Dionysus involved wild dance sessions as a method of worship, all of which was driven underground when Rome was converted to Christianity. Its first historical mention can be traced back to 1374, when allegedly a gang of youths went to a churchyard to perform the lively St. Vitus’ Dance. Disturbed and angered by such merriment, the parish priest prayed for God to punish the youths by making them dance frenziedly for an entire year. The Tarantella later reemerged in areas around Abruzzo, Puglia, and Calabria in the 16th and 17th century as a remedy to the poisonous bite of a local wolf spider, the Mediterranean Black Widow. The spider, known in Italian as the tarantula, was most active during the late summer harvest times, and its bite was thought to induce “tarantism,” a manic hysteria and restlessness that allegedly led to death.

The Mediterranean Black Widow, Lycosa Tarantula

The Mediterranean Black Widow, Lycosa Tarantula

The Tarantella has gone through many incarnations since then, becoming a graceful, stately courtship dance between a couple and a therapeutic cure for neurotic women, but for centuries its primary purpose was in response to spider bites. The bite victims, known as the tarantolati, were meant to dance frenziedly by themselves for hours or even days to sweat out the venom, a cure which was more psychosomatic than anything. Still, the music has become iconic of southern Italy, and its many variations have served as inspiration for composers all across Europe. Chopin, Liszt, Rossini, Debussy, Mendelssohn, and Rachmaninoff all have used variations of the tarantella in their work.

In contemporary times, the Tarantella has become more of a group dance, performed in a circle at occasions like weddings or birthday parties. Guests will dance clockwise in a circle, speeding up as the tempo increases, switching directions and trying to see who can keep up pace with the musicians. Young musicians and groups in Italy, drawing on the old traditions, have fueled a movement called “Neo-Tarantism,” which recreates the frenzy and hypnotic effect of the Tarantella but generally with a faster tempo and different, more modern sound. There is also a considerable amount of research being done in the effects of the Tarantella—both the music and the dance—on people with psychiatric problems such as depression and hysteria. While it resembles similar dances in the Mediterranean area, such as the Furlana of Venice and the Saltarello of Rome, the Tarantella is the one dance that is most widely known and can be considered truly iconic of Italian culture.

The Changing World of Italian Fashion

Posted on October 11th, 2013 by Anna in Uncategorized | No Comments »

To many, the country of Italy is synonymous with fashion.  In Italian culture, dressing up to draw attention to oneself and present “la bella figura,” or good impression, is a key aspect of social life.  Taking meticulous care of one’s appearance has an almost religious importance, and in the evenings in Italy you’ll see men and women impeccably dressed up, with complementary shoes and accessories, to take on the night.  Rome and Milan are widely considered to be two of the five great fashion capitals of the world, and names like Prada, Armani, Gucci, and Versace represent the pinnacle of excellence in this area, blending the line between clothing and high art since their inception.

A look at outfits from the Prada runway

A look at outfits from the Prada runway

Possibly the most high-profile name of leather accessories, luggage, and perfume, is Prada.  Founded in 1913 as a shop for leather goods and steam trunks, it has mushroomed into a universally-recognized logo for high-end designer handbags.  While their image has evolved over the years through various working class stages meant to appeal to the average consumer, today they embrace their role as a producer of luxury products.  Armani, on the other hand, the fashion house of luxury suits, shoes, accessories, and cosmetics, has branded itself as a high-end label from the very beginning.  Their imagination and innovation in the realm of haute couture (they designed an entire line of men’s suits woven entirely out of alpaca wool!) has made them one of the leading fashion brands in terms of influence and desirability.

Gucci, on the other hand, has taken a radical approach to its role in the fashion world.  Founded in Florence by Guccio Gucci in 1921, Gucci has evolved to become one of the most distinctive names of high-end designer goods.  In Florence, there is actually a Gucci Museum, open year-round, dedicated to serving as a permanent showcase for the fashions and designer items created under the brand.  While many are applauding this daring move, it remains highly controversial in the message it delivers about the fashion world.  By taking these high-end, extremely stylized costumes off of the runway and placing them in a public setting where anyone can access them (for an admission fee of €6,) it gives Gucci a more egalitarian image.  While this provides Gucci more exposure in a wider arena than they would have had otherwise, it creates a distance between their past standards of luxury, uniqueness, and what some would call elitism.

The Gucci Museum revolutionizes the public's image of high fashion.

The Gucci Museum revolutionizes the public’s image of high fashion.

Whatever changes are in store for Gucci and other Italian brands, the unprecedented move to incorporate fashion into art exhibitions seems to be catching on with other brands, such as Chanel and Steve McQueen.  While purists may grumble, this is also introducing high fashion to a whole new generation of consumers, instilling new life into the old brands.  And as high fashion’s relationship with the public continues to change, it’s the brands like Gucci, with a strong fan base but daring enough to branch out into new directions, that will continue to last into the new century.

Dante Alighieri, il Sommo Poeta

Posted on October 8th, 2013 by Anna in Uncategorized | No Comments »

No conversation about Italy or Italian culture can ever be complete without a mention of Dante Alighieri.  Born Durante degli Alighieri in 13th century Florence, he is known universally to this day simply as Dante.  In Italy, 700 years later, he also goes by the name il Sommo Poeta, or “the Supreme Poet,” or sometimes even just il Poeta, as Shakespeare is just “the Bard.”  Dante’s legacy has transcended beyond the literary realm and into legend.  Indeed, Modernist poet T.S. Eliot once stated, “Dante and Shakespeare divide the world between them.  There is no third.”

Dante was born on the cusp of a political schism, when Florence was divided between two factions: the Ghibelines, who supported the regency of the Holy Roman Emperor, and the Guelphs, who supported the Papacy.  Dante and all the rest of his family were fervent Guelphs—later White Guelphs, when the Guelphs themselves fractured—which strongly influenced his poetry and his public life until he died.

Dante Aligheri, crowned with the poet's laurel

Dante Aligheri, crowned with the poet’s laurel

Married at 12 to Gemma di Manetto Donati, Dante’s lifelong love (despite the fact that he barely ever spoke to her,) was for a girl named Beatrice Portinari, whom he saw in the street once and decided to name his muse.  (This was actually quite common in pre-Renaissance Italy, with unrequited courtly love being all the rage.)  As it was, Beatrice fueled a series of love sonnets and served as the semi-divine guide through Heaven in Dante’s final work, Paradiso.

Moreover, she provided the inspiration for Dante’s involvement in Italy’s first literary movement, il Dolce Stil Novo (sweet new style,) a term which he coined.  In a society where all “high” literature was meant to be composed in Latin, Dante and his contemporaries, Guido Cavalcanti and Guido Guinizzelli, pioneered a poetic style that was intellectual and refined—and written in their native Tuscan.  Through strong use of metaphor and lyricism, advocates of the Dolce Stil Novo focused on the themes of Amore and Gentilezza—Love and Noble-Mindedness—coupled with blind adoration of female beauty.  His experiments with this style, as well as his one-sided love story with Beatrice, he documented in his short work, La Vita Nuova.

But of course, while he was a prolific writer in other areas, Dante’s fame comes from his magnum opus, literature’s greatest work of biblical fanfiction, The Divine Comedy, known in Italian simply as La Commedia.  Describing Dante’s allegorical journey through the afterlife as described by the medieval Church, The Divine Comedy is viewed to this day as a triumph of poetry, Christian theology, and philosophy.  It’s also filled with symbolism and numerology, with precedence being given to the numbers 3 and 9.  It’s divided into three books, Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso, and each book is divided into 33 cantos plus one introduction, to make up 100 cantos each.  There are nine circles of Hell, nine levels of Purgatory, and then nine spheres of Heaven, et cetera.

Guided by the Roman poet Virgil through Hell, Dante takes a tour of Limbo, each of the seven deadly sins, and finally the lair of Satan at the very bottom.  (Unsurprisingly, many of Dante’s political opponents—Black Guelphs, Pope Boniface VIII, and Cante de’ Gabrielli di Gubbio who exiled him from Florence—make appearances as damned souls undergoing various torments in Hell.)  They ascend through Purgatory, and then to Paradise, where Dante is passed off to Beatrice who guides him through the heavenly spheres, the four cardinal virtues and the three theological virtues, until at the apex of Heaven he finally looks on the face of God.

Dante's vision of Heaven as a series of concentric spheres

Dante’s vision of Heaven as a series of concentric spheres

While Dante enjoyed a brief popularity after his death, his poetry fell out of fashion for a few hundred years until they were revived by the Romantic movement and declared to be works of singular genius.  Since then, Dante has been beloved by litterateurs worldwide, with many scholars deliberately taking a lifetime to read The Divine Comedy, saving Paradiso until the end of the career when they have sufficient wisdom to take it on.  In Italy they practically swear by his name, and Florence has spent the past 700 years trying to get his remains back from Ravenna, where he’s buried.  But whether you’re a Dante fanatic or not, it’s impossible to deny the lasting impression he’s had on western literature, culture, and philosophy.

Malocchio and Other Italian Superstitions

Posted on October 3rd, 2013 by Anna in Uncategorized | No Comments »

A few years ago I went to spend New Year’s Eve up in Brooklyn with the Italian-American family of a guy I was dating. Without a doubt they threw a terrific party; there were guitars and mandolins and wine aplenty and getting kissed and loudly proclaimed over by a swarm of relatives the instant they met me. The food was plentiful, diverse, and delicious, all of which had been lovingly and laboriously conjured into being by the guy’s nonna. Nonna was a four-foot, black-clad Sicilian émigré, terrifying and formidable, who when we were introduced surreptitiously patted my stomach to gauge whether I was pregnant with her grandchild. She spoke no English and I spoke no Italian, but at midnight she personally served me a bowl of lentils and conveyed to me that these lentils were a dish special to her hometown, that it was an old Sicilian belief that to eat lentils on New Year’s Day brought good luck for the rest of the year.

Owls are thought to be bad luck by many Italians.

Owls are thought to be bad luck by many Italians.

Italy has a rich supply of such superstitions, many of them, not surprisingly, having to do with food. The age-old tradition of throwing spilled salt over your left shoulder to ward off bad luck still thrives in Italy, dating back to the days when salt was a precious commodity and wasting it was deemed a sin. A bulk of Italian food superstitions, as do many of their other traditions, deal with bread. Bread, being a symbol of Jesus as well as a staple of Italian cuisine, must be treated with the utmost respect: never lay a loaf of bread upside-down, never stick a knife into a loaf of bread (unless you’re cutting it,) and never, ever throw a loaf of bread away. If you absolutely must do so, kiss it first, just to be safe. And spilling wine, of course, is the height of bad luck, which one can remedy by dabbing a drop of the spilled wine behind each ear.
Like those in most European cultures, especially Greece and Eastern Europe, the superstitious in Italy live in dread of being cursed by malocchio, the Evil Eye. Malocchio can be sent to you from anyone and is basically evil-wishing fueled by envy—Dante describes it in Purgatorio, his less sensational sequel to Inferno, as “My blood was so afire with envy that/ when I had seen a man becoming happy,/ the lividness in me was plain to see.” Malocchio can manifest itself as physical ailments or complaints or as a streak of bad luck, and the eyeball-shaped charm against the Evil Eye is ubiquitous in Mediterranean regions.

This talisman is believed by many to protect the wearer against malocchio.

This talisman is believed by many to protect the wearer against malocchio.

Many Italians believe that owls are harbingers of bad luck, and that to lay a hat or shoes on a bed is to invite death to come around. The number 17 is unlucky, but apparently to dream of the number 29 is a sign that you will win the lottery. (Italians take dream interpretation very seriously, with most dreams seeming to translate into prophecies of doom.) If you sweep a broom over someone’s feet or sit at the corner of a table, that is a sure sign you’ll never marry. Cutting your nails on a Thursday will surely invite evil spirits, but storing a knife under your mattress or spitting can keep them at bay. And, of course, the saints are always handy to have around, with each saint dealing with a particular aspect of life. For example, a prayer to St. Anthony will help you find lost objects (so my mother always told me,) whereas the parents of an unmarried daughter who’s hit forty may pray to St. Jude—the patron saint of lost causes.
As science and technology advances, drawing us away from superstitions, which are generally viewed as being backwards and old-fashioned, it’s refreshing to know there are places where such customs and traditions are still thriving. And after all, what harm is there is making sure all elephant statues always face south, or that peacock feathers (symbolizing the Devil’s eyes,) never enter the house? After all, you never know…