traditional

All posts tagged traditional

NEAPOLITAN CHRISTMAS GAME

Published December 16, 2013 by Tony

THE TOMBOLA

Let’s put aside Baseball or Playstation and take the opportunity that relatives and friends are at home to play all together with a board game.

The board  games are a phenomenon quite common in Western countries as a moment of aggregation, although their importance in social life also depends on national traditions. In Germany and the German-speaking countries, for example, the culture of the table game is much more widespread than in Italy. This kind of games is important as entertainment for family, especially for those suitable for all ages.
Christmas, being a celebration that usually unites the whole family, also becomes an opportunity to play together, a way to spend a happy afternoon or evening with a board game.

And in Naples, the oldest and widespread game played during the holiday season is the ” TOMBOLA“.
It is a traditional board game just created in Naples in the eighteenth century. A home game as an alternative to the game of the LOTTO (lot), and often accompanied by a system of association between numbers and their meanings, usually humorous, deriving from “The SMORFIA“.
The Smorfia is like the dream book, used to obtain the corresponding numbers from the various dreams to play the “Lotto”, along the lines of the Jewish Kabbalistic tradition (Kabbalah). For the Smorfia, a word, an event, a person, or an object, is transformed into one or more numbers, even through a fairly accurate coding that provides a different number depending on the context. For example, the verb (action) “to play” is represented by the number 79, but it changes if you meant to play football (50), cards (17), chess (22), and so on. For The Smorfia, the number 1 represents “Italy”, while the last number, 90, represents the “fear”, as well as the number five the “hands” and 18 the “blood”.

smorfia

For the uninitiated, the Lotto is a gambling game (like lottery), the most popular game in Italy managed by the State. The word “lotto” is derived from the French ” lot ,” which means both ” portion” and “fate.” The term, arrived in the Iberian Peninsula, is documented as “lote” in Spanish and “loto” in Portuguese. The French verb “lotir ” also means “to divide the lot” or “assign the lot”. But similar term can be found in the old English “hlot” (“a thing allotted”), which correspond to “Los” in modern German.

The game consists of three weekly draws, conducted in eleven cities called “ruote” (wheels), in which are drawn 5 numbers between 1 and 90 without replacement, meaning that a number once selected is not put back in the urn. The game is to bet on one or more numbers (double, triplet, quadruplet, quintet), in the hope that they are selected in the “wheels” you had gambled. In fact, you can bet in a single wheel, multi-wheel or all-wheel.
Neapolitans are very superstitious and often bet the numbers (arising from Smorfia) corresponding to particular events or situations, or resulting from some dream. Even the numbers that are part of a just bought car’s license plate, are among those that a Neapolitan can play to The Lotto.

Lotto: extracted numbers

According to tradition, the Tombola game would be created in 1734 by a discussion between King Charles of Bourbon and father Gregorio Maria Rocco about the lottery. The first wanted it under public control, as the second considered it immoral on religious grounds. The compromise was found by banning the game during the holiday season, during which families organized themselves with a home version of the game, which soon became a custom in those days of the year.

Basically the game of Bingo is similar to Tombola, in which participants are required to pay a sum of money which is then redistributed as prizes to the winners.
The players have one or more rectangular “cards” previously “bought”, consisting of 3 lines, each with five numbers, from 1 to 90, printed on. Each time one number is drawn and it is present on one or more of the player’s cards, the player gotta cover it. In the traditional version of Tombola, the cards are simple paper cards and the numbers are can be covered with beans, chickpeas, lentils, pasta, or other materials available after the Christmas dinners, like hazelnuts’ shells. The Tombola’s cards are made in groups of six, so that in each group the numbers from 1 to 90 are present once only. A collecting box is part of the game, typically a small cone-shaped basket, filled with 90 numbers of wood. In turn, each player draws, at random, one number a time from the container, and go on until one of the players has covered all the numbers marked on one of his card. In such cases it is said that he made “Tombola”, and is the winner. Once put back in place the numbers and emptied the cards, the game resumes and another player can extract the numbers from the bowl. Depending on the amount of the prize money, players can decide to put at stake the double, the triplet, the quadruplet and the quintet, although it is the one who gets tombola to earn the top prize.

Tombola

Since Neapolitan tombola is normally played in a familiar context (as mentioned it is the traditional Christmas game), the amounts committed and won are usually small, and often have a purely symbolic value (you can “buy” three folders for 1 euro, for example). I like to buy 6 cards and to tell the truth, I’m not very lucky in this game, and although I only pay 2 Euros per session, after a couple of hours I could lose 15-20 euro! But as we say, more to comfort than anything else, “unlucky in the game, lucky in love”?
As mentioned, it is mainly a way to get together and have fun, which children may also take part, who know the numbers, at least from 1 to 90!

tombola

ITALIAN EASTER MEAL

Published March 31, 2013 by Tony

TRADITIONAL EASTER LUNCH

If you want to have an Easter lunch that reflects the Neapolitan or Italian tradition, you have to keep in mind that the main ingredients to be used in these days must be based on:

Fresh veggie, vegetables: preferably those that this season offers, such as artichokes, peas, cabbage, asparagus. [About artichokes, you can taste variety without thorns (as Romanesco variety), to eat boiled.]
Cold cuts: salami, capicolla, bacon.
Cheeses: ricotta, salt ricotta, provolone, caciotta.
Eggs: preferably boiled.
Meat: lamb, pork.
Pasta: fresh pasta, egg pasta, lasagne, cannelloni.
Pie: any rustic (salt) cake made with dough, eggs, salami, oil or lard.
Desserts: chocolate, any soft cake with candies fruits.

Here are some images to whet your imagination and appetite. Enjoy your meal!

  

       

 

 

 

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EASTER TRADITIONS

Published March 30, 2013 by Tony

MEMORIES OF A TIME
THE CASATIELLO

Easter time.
In addition to doing my best wishes to you all, I take this opportunity to tell you some memories that in these days come to my mind.
At that time I was a toddler and often on Friday our grandmother picked me up to let me spend a few days at her home.
The grandmother “mmaculatina“, as people called her (Immaculate, God rest her soul), in those days did not go to work, and aware I liked being with her, came to our house to take me, and sometimes took my sister too. She loved her grandchildren, and on that time I was the youngest grandson, and although she was living with our grandfather, between work and commitments she spent little time at home. It had been years that the granddad was already retired, having made the postman became sick with bronchitis and arthritis, and alone spent all his days at home. He had his own bed with a bedside table on which a glass of wine and his radio never had to be missing. A man of few words who spent his days walking slowly in the house, sitting on the bed, sipping wine, smoking and listening to 1920: My grandma when youngopera on the radio.

It was an old building where, on different floors, a long balcony gave access to homes, inside the building those balconies turned all around the perimeter of the apartment blocks. The houses were not very large, entering directly to the first room, usually the living room, where the granddad had created his personal corner. On the right there was a small kitchen with a small window that looked out on the perimetral balcony, and where there was a very small bathroom formed simply from toilet and a sink. Beyond the living room was my grandma’s bedroom, that had a small balcony overlooking the street below. We slept in the same double-bed with grandma and I still remember her laughter when she told relatives how I sometimes fell asleep touching her breast and resting my head on his chest. I loved my grandmother and it was only the need in maternal instincts of a kid who, like me, had evidently not received enough cuddles from his mum. The grandma “Immacolatina” was good, cheerful and friendly, as well as a holy woman and had dedicated her life to work in the factory where she had become the “teacher,” as called her there, to wit the supervisor. Her relationship with the granddad were not excellent, having been from long more a nurse than a wife, and she was glad to have us at home to chat and pass the time.

As usual, Friday is the day when all Neapolitans dedicated to the preparation of the “casatiello“, also called “tortano“, the typical Neapolitan rustic pie (Neapolitan Lard Bread). And the grandma prepared it Friday afternoon to let it rise all day and then in the night took it at the bakery for baking. In those years it was customary to let casatiello bake by bakers because not everyone had a powerful ovens as bakeries where the cooking was done in an optimal way. There was no area or neighborhood that did not have some baker nearby. Anyone who would have walked in the alleys of Naples, during Friday and Holy Saturday, felt the almost stagnant scent of “casatielli” which were cooked at homes or by bakers. How can we forget that smell?
Odor that became all one with those feast days Grandma & Iand represented them as well. For this in Naples, even today, Easter is to say casatiello and vice versa.

At that time, due to the enormous work to be done between Thursday and Saturday, bakers worked continuously day and night. For this you could go to one of them at any time of the day or night, and deliver your casatiello or withdraw it.
The baker from whom my grandma went, was a few blocks from the house, the huge old wooden front door was always open for the occasion, placed on the ground and stacked up one above the other, hundreds of aluminum “ruoto” (round baking pan). They were the casatielli waiting for bakery.
Truly spectacular!
At that time, not everybody had the pan with the hole in the middle, which gives casatiello the classic donut shape, and so, most of the containers had a wineglass or a cup (glass or metal) at the center, around which the pasta was then grown encasing it.

Crossed the entrance hall, people arrived at the courtyard where on both the sides were stacked firewood for the ovens, shovels, sacks, buckets and other objects. In addition to the smell of casatielli, so strong here to become pungent, you also felt the scent of flour that you found everywhere, on the ground, on walls, on objects, everything was whitewashed with a pinch of flour!
Entered in the furnaces room, the heat became almost unbearable. Everywhere there were shelves made by long wooden boards, one above the other, on which side by side the casatielli already cooked were placed.
Here, the casatiello was not more as white as those encountered at the entrance, but the color of the rind of bread in its various gold shades.  A variety of sizes and shapes, those with the eggs above visible under two small strips of pasta in the shape of X, those without eggs or those where the eggs were just popping out below the golden crust. You could not but be enchanted to see those scenes, and especially for a kid like me.

People came and went, with those who were giving their casatiello and those who were going to pick up it, and all workers each with its own task. On that occasion there were more people at work and one of them went to the grandma and after taking two plates of aluminum from a huge basket, gave one to her and attacked the other with thin wire to the container’s handle. The baker asked if the casatiello had already risen and then placed it onto the others waiting for cooking. Probably, somewhere else there were those which were in need of further rise before being baked.

On those aluminum plates was imprinted a number which from then on would have marked our “casatiello.” After cooking the casatielli were placed on those planks in a coarse numerical order, according to the number that had been tied close, so to trace it when the owner would come back for it. In fact, to take the casatiello you had to give back your plate, and the baker began to turn around the wooden shelves to look for it. Hundreds and hundreds casatielli. You paid, wrapped the container in a cloth, and went back home happy with your casatiello ready to be eaten.
Things of other times, when everything was simpler and folksy!

casatiello

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2013 SANREMO MUSIC FESTIVAL

Published February 13, 2013 by Tony

63th SANREMO SONG FESTIVAL

Fabio Fazio and Luciana Litizzetto

Also this year the “Sanremo Song Festival” got the start yesterday night, the famous Italian song festival which sees the competition among some acclaimed Italian singers (Big) together some new talents (Rookie).
Sanremo, the city of flowers, in the past years gave at the festival a lot of bouquets for the scene design, but this tradition has slowly weakened and now the stage is completely devoid of flowers.
Since the artistic direction of the program is entrusted to the conductor, each year there are changes and additions to the anchorman himself.
This year, the presenters of the festival are a couple who for years is presenting a famous cultural program on one of the national network, called “Che tempo fà“, Fabio Fazio and Luciana Litizzetto, who also is a comedian and a writer.
Many novelties this year, five instalments, and during the first one the Big have proposed two new songs and at the same time the verdict, resulting by spectators and a jury of quality’s votes, chose which of the two songs had to continue the race.Bar rafaeli
Seven singers in the first night and seven in the second, and also this year there are international guests such as the supermodel Bar Rafaeli, Asaf Avidan, Carla Bruni, Antony & The Johnsons, Andrea Bocelli and the dancer Lutz Foster, aside from some Italian celebrity.
In the third live-kermesse,  the 8 rookies will perform with an direct vote by public and jury that must choose songs that pass the turn.
The fourth night is dedicated to the history of the Festival of Sanremo during which each of the Big will sing an old song (out of race) that has made the history of these 63 years of the festival, and during the show also will be decreed, by 50% televoting and 50 % of the jury’s votes, the winner among the debuting singers still in the race.
The 14 Big will perform again Saturday night (February 16), the last show day, when the winning song for this 2013 edition of the Sanremo Festival will be chosen.

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(Read here for the next post about SanRemo)

Twelfth Night

Published January 4, 2012 by Tony

Epiphany

Many Italian children, in these days, are anxiously waiting: they are waiting for the arrival of the Befana who delivers Christmas gifts. In fact, in many Italian regions is a custom to celebrate the Epiphany (word transformed in Befana), the day when the Magi arrived to the hut and gave to baby Jesus their gifts; so, for a lot of Italian children, he isn’t Santa Claus to bring gifts, but an old ugly woman or hag, children call Befana, who flying on a broom will bring toys to any good children during the night of January 5. She is usually portrayed as an old lady riding a broomstick through the air wearing a black shawl and is covered in soot because she could enter the children’s houses through the chimney. She is often smiling and carries a bag or hamper filled with candy and presents. If children have been naughty could get a few toys less and a piece of coal as a warning, symbolized by a big lump of black sugar put in the stockings left hanging in some corner of the house. The next morning, magically, the sock has turned into a long and red velvet sock full of candies and sweets, while nearby the child will also find a few toys. The Befana may also be whimsical and hide the toys anywhere in the house, so the children, woke up early in the morning, must quest for them, looking behind curtains or under the bed. Children usually leave their letter for the old witch near the sock (children call it “letterina” meaning small letter), in the hope of receiving the aspired toys. To ingratiate themselves with the witch, the parents can leave some sweet on the table with a glass of liquor or wine, and in the morning children will find only crumbs and the glass empty. Whether it’s Santa Claus or Befana, Christmas for children is time for gifts at any latitude, although parents should bring to the attention of children that in the world, however, there are many other children not so lucky because Santa Claus or Befana can’t go to their homes.

befana

Epiphany marks the end of the Christmas season, as Twelve Days of Christmas and as the saying go:
Epifania tutte le feste porta via“,
which can be rougly translated in “Epiphany all holidays takes away”, meaning that with this festivity, the long period of celebrations (began with New Year’s eve) just ends (and schools reopen too).
There are different poems that children say about Befana and the most known is:

La Befana vien di notte
Con le scarpe tutte rotte
Col vestito alla romana
Viva, Viva La Befana!

(Literal translation : The Befana comes by night, With her torn shoes, She comes dressed in the Roman way, Long life to the Befana!)
To keep rhymes you could say something like:

The Befana comes by night
with her torn shoes is here
to her broom tight-knit
hooray Befana come to me

Once, many southern moms sang this lullaby to their baby:

Ninnaà, ninnaò,
questo bimbo a chi lo do
se lo do alla Befana
se lo tiene una settimana
se lo do all’Uomo Nero
se lo tiene un anno intero
ma se il bimbo fa la nanna
se lo tiene la sua mamma

Translation:
“Ninnaòà, ninnaò,
who’ll I give this child to
if I give it to the Befana
she’ll keep him one whole week
if I give it to the bogeyman
he’ll keep him one whole year
but if the child goes to sleep
then his mom will him keep”

Befana

ANCIENT TRADES

Published January 27, 2011 by Tony

Old Neapolitan Works

Who got the change to read the previous post of mine called “Neapolitanism” noticed the talk about the Neapolitans’ peculiar characteristic to get by with work, also if in the last decades things changed. I also said that “necessity is the mother of invention” and under this point of view most Neapolitans are very imaginative reaching sometimes eccentricity even. It is an innate characteristic from the dawn of time when poverty and destitution was rampant and for centuries population had to make ends meet every day and since childhood any person roamed for a slice of bread. It’s well-known that southern Italy went through long and different dominations as: Byzantine, Aragonese, Norman, Borbones, Svevi, French, Spanish, causing decay and unrest but misery and underdevelopment too. As time went by people tried to devise any way to earn money doing or inventing the most disparate trades. Between the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth century, squares and alleyways were populated by people working in the streets but most of those works vanished in the time and it’s quite impossible to get a complete list but, thanks to writings and Internet today we can mention someone.


Take into account these works are in dialect and I put the simple literal translation in brackets.

Acquaiuoli (water and ice peddlers)

Acquafrescaio (water and ice seller with stall)

Ammazzapiecure (expert guy  butchering sheep or goats)

Ammuola forbece or Ammuolafuorbice (grinder or sharpener)

 

Arriffatore (A sort of raffle where though a bingo somebody could win foods)

Callista (callus and corns remover)

Cammesara (a woman repairing or darning shirts)

Capera (a woman doing the hairdresser)

Capillaro or Capillò (hair purchaser)

Carcararo ( quicklime maker)

Carnacuttaro (guts or offal peddler)

Casadduoglio (coming from the term dairy, who sold cheese or delicatessen)

Castagnaro (roast chestnuts peddler)

Cenneraro (coal dust seller. Coal dust was useful for laundry)

Cevezaioulo or Ceuzaro (mulberries or blackberries seller)

Chiavettiere (a smith making keys)

Conciambrelli (umbrella repairer)

Ferracavallo (clogs maker)

Franfelliccaro (“franfellicco” seller – a colored caramel stick-)

Funaro (hemp ropes maker)

Gravunaro (slack or charcoal peddler)

Gallettaro (rusks or water biscuits peddler)

Latrenaro (who cleaned the latrines and sold the excrement as fertilizer)

Lattaro (milk peddler)

Lavannaje or lavannara (washerwomen)

Lutammaro (dung picker)

Maccarunaro (macaroni seller)

Masterascio (wood worker or master carpenter)

Mastuggiorgio (madhouse nurse, it usually referred to a big man as “giant killers”)

Matarazzaio (wooden mattress maker)

Mellunaro (melons peddler)

Muzzunaro (cigarette’s stug gatherer)

Ncenziatore (a man that burnt incense in a can and protected shops from possible jinx while screaming this  chant: <Sciò sciò ciucciuvè, uocchio, maluocchio… funecelle all’uocchio, aglio e fravaglio, fattura ca nun quaglia, corne e bicorne, cape ‘e alice e cape d’aglio… diavulillo diavulillo, jesce a dint’o pertusillo… sciò sciò ciucciuvè… jatevenne, sciò sciò…>)

Nutriccia (a neo-woman who sold her breast milk feeding other’s chilren)

Paddulano and Sarmataro (greengrocer seller)

Panzaruttaro (panzerotto or panzarrotti seller)

Pazzariello (an old character who wore a particular jacket  as uniform and with a stick, together some organist, went around in the streets to publicize the opening of a new shop, starting his advertisement with this words: <Battaglio’, scapucchio’ è asciuto pazzo ‘o patro’!>)

Pezzaro (rags gatherer)

Piattare (like the following “Sapunaro” but giving in exchange crockery)

Pupari (puppets maker)

Purpaiuolo (the “purpo” is the octopus and he was who sold pices of boiled octopuses together its salt and burning water)

Pusteggiature and sunature (some singer and musician that played in the eating-houses to cheer up customers or called to serenate some girl)

Rammaro (copper cookware maker and seller)

Ricuttaro (fresh ricotta-cheese peddler – usually he prepared a sort of bread-roll with ricotta that was in particular little cane basket cone-shaped called “fuscella” – see the following image-)

Sanzaro (a sort of intermediary or middleman for rental but also a sort of pander for marriage)

Sapunaro [a pitchman buying old and wore objects giving in exchange pieces of laundry soap (potash) – The old said: “Cca ‘e ppezze e cca ‘o sapone” (“first the rags and then the soap”) just comes with this trade meaning that “I don’t pay you if first don’t get the goods!]

Scapillate (some women who on payment stayed at the bedside of a dead person praying and crying even tearing their hair. During the funeral were hired a group of toddlers – usually those put in the orphanage)

Scrivano (a person with literacy who wrote and read mails and letters to illiterate people)

Segatore (logger)

Siggiaro and mpagliasegge (the first was a chairs maker, the second replaced the straw in the old chairs)

Solachianiello (shoes repairer or cobbler)

Spicajola (boiled ears of wheat seller)

Stagnaro (a man who repaired pierced copper pots by tin welding)

Strascinafacenne (who found new customer for lawyers but it also means: living by one’s wits)

Tavernaro (the innkeeper)

Tosacavallo (a blacksmith that sheared horses too)

Trecciaiole (a sort of street peddling hairdressers making braids and toupee)

Vammara (a sort of midwife)

Vuttaro or conciatenielle (vats or barrels repairer)

Zarellaro (m) and zarellara (f) [retailer of a sort of country store, emporium or haberdashery]

Zuccularo (clogs maker)

Then other sellers that had no specific name as:

snails seller, frogs seller, who sold toasted peanuts and others seeds or who sold prickly pears kept in a container and going around with a hand-cart. With some coin people bought the right to pick and took the fruits by a small pointed knife that had to drop vertically over the container, for a fixed amount of throws. Any stuck fruit had then to be raised and the player could eat it only if it didn’t slip out of the knife.