WHAT’S GOING ON… FLORENTINE NEW YEAR

In Florence we celebrate the New Year twice, on 1st of January and then again on the 25th of March.  The 25th of March celebration originated in the Middle Ages in remembrance of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary and the Incarnation of Christ – as it is exactly nine months before the 25th of December, the birth of the Jesus.

Fra Angelico, The Annunciation, 1437-46 – Convent of San Marco, Florence, Italy

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WHAT’S GOING ON… CARNEVALE

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A carnival feast was traditionally the last opportunity for peasants and common people to have a nice meal.  There was generally a food shortage toward the end of winter as stores would run out of meats, dairy, and fat, or they would begin to spoil.  People were then restricted to eat only when necessary until produce was available again in the spring.  The timing coincides perfectly with the somber season of Lent.  The six weeks before Easter are known as the Lenten period of the liturgical calendar and is historically marked by fasting.  During Lent people refrain from parties and celebrations along with consuming richer foods made of meat, dairy, fat and sugars.  Even today many families will avoid meat and other treats during the weeks leading up to Easter.  All the more reason to indulge in the sweets that are typical for this time of the year are available everywhere.  Frittelle di riso – little balls of dough with rice that’s fried and rolled in sugar, Chiacchiere or ‘Cenci’ as they are called in Tuscany – Flat pieces of dough that are fried until crisp and dusted with sugar. [More on these next week when we learn to make them!]

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WHAT’S GOING ON… La Befana

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Here in Italy we have ‘La Befana’, much like Santa Claus, she fills the stockings with candy and toys for the good children or leaves a lump of coal for those who have misbehaved. Only La Befana is an old woman who rides a broom the and comes to visit the Eve of Epiphany.  There are many versions of the story of La Befana this one sums it up quite nicely… Continue reading “WHAT’S GOING ON… La Befana”