Do we all remember the way we celebrated “Carnival”? Well, carnival is here again. This year, unfortunately, you don’t breathe the usual happiness, even if we try to be positive. Do you have great grandparents that you make you go in time? I do. I can consider myself very lucky to have a great grandmother because she  took me back how the carnival was celebrated when she was young. So, few days ago, an afternoon, together and through her memory we took a step back….

My great grandmother is 90 years old and when she was a teenager used to live in Agira with her parents ad her 8 siblings.  She told me that in those days the carnival was not at all as  it is now. This festivity didn’t last a month but only two weeks: two Thursdays and two Saturdays and  a Sunday. The first Thursday was called “ giovedì  delle  comari”. On this day all the girls were busy  preparing many  delicious typical Sicilian desserts. My great grandma and her sisters were very good at baking and they loved preparing “cannoli”, “chiacchere” and “stelline” filled with cream and ricotta cheese. “The house smelled  so good just as a pastry shop” she remembered.

 Around 3 p.m., she continued, all the girls of the neighborhood gathered together. They danced all afternoon long with live music. Someone played violin, guitar, accordion and mandolin and danced waltz, mazurca, tango and polka. The latter was her favourite one and  though she is 90 she still loves dancing it. The dances were sweeten with the  desserts  prepared by all them. Another of her memories, and with a great smile in her face,  that often played tricks and jokes on each other just to have fun. “Remember” she tells me “this was how we entertained ourselves. We didn’t have back then what you young people have today. Our fun was more genuine.” By 7p.m. everyone went back  home. After dinner, the party get on going and all the family members danced  all night long. I asked also if she wore anything particular in this occasion and she answered  that she loved wearing clothes made by herself, decorated with ribbons and tweets, and coloured hair grip on her head.

Maundy Thursday, instead, was called “brothers and sisters’ Thursday”. Only this time the girls gathered and had lunch all together . On Saturdays and Sundays were those days when   boys  and girls got together and spent the night dancing. Back to 75 years ago the carnival was  celebrated in a very simple way but as my great grandma says  everyone was happy. I really thank her for sharing with these precious memories. Through  her eyes and her voice I felt her  emotions and her nostalgia. She said that now life is so different and she doesn’t understand our way of living. She is right, we should all stop  and think for a while; perhaps  the only positive things of this pandemic that  is giving us the possibility to do it.

It is important to become aware of everything that is happening around us before it is too late.

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Marika Napoli


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