Old “Italian” Wives’ Tales
We’ve all heard of them, some of us swear by them, and others ignore them…
After living in Italy for almost 4 years (and visiting every summer for the past 6 years), I finally have to get it off my chest…what is with these old wives’ tales?!
I don’t want to offend anyone (especially my husband!) because while in our “North-American” eyes these are “old wives’ tales”, in an Italian’s eyes these “pratices” (I’ll call them) are sacred and could mean the difference between life and death (sorry, I HAD to throw that in there!!).
I should stop here and highlight the fact that I have a tendency to be VERY sarcastic so for the sake of entertaining my followers I opted for this approach when I decided to write this blog post.
For your reading entertainment (and for pure “informative” purposes) I’ve compiled a list of the top old “Italian” wives’ tales that I’ve come across in the past 10 years:
1. Never stand near an open window!
This will cause the phenomenon “colpo d’aria” (or basically “punch of air”) which will inevitably make you sick-it even causes conjunctivitis (someone once told me!). Ever wonder why Italians always wear scarves?? They do so to protect their throats and necks..so, it’s not just a fashion statement!
2. Never drink anything cold!
Ice?! What’s that? And forget about a nice ice cold drink from the fridge! Most Italians like to drink everything cool or at room temperature to avoid getting a “blocco di stomaco” or blocked stomach, which inevitably causes digestion problems (or death-see #7).
3. Always offer a pregnant woman food (and always satisfy a food craving!)
This might not be a bad thing…for the pregnant woman in question! I still haven’t figured out the reasoning behind this one. Take my nonna for example, (who lives in Canada!) she not only offers me everything, she makes me eat everything she offers!! Like it’s not enough tyring to curb pregnancy cravings!
Long story short, if you do not satisy a craving or decline an offer, your child could be born with some kind of birthmark or “voglia,” which means “craving.”
4. Beware of the “malocchio” (evil eye)
I think many people can relate to this one because I’m sure every culture has a variation of this superstition. Basically, the evil eye is cast upon you by someone who is envious of you. To protect yourself from this “curse” it is best to wear an evil eye, such as the pendant in the picture above.
5. Don’t take a bath or shower when you are sick (especially with a fever!)
Just don’t do it…it’ll make you sicker! And if you can’t shower for a week then just don’t leave the house (or maybe just explain the reason behind the offending odor to people and they should understand!). Once again “colpo d’aria” plays a large role in this!
6. Beware of air-conditioning!
It’s the devil! This contraption blows dangerously cold air directly onto you and could therefore cause an extreme case of “colpo d’aria!” (I wonder how my in-laws coped when they came to Canada, only to discover that we wear sweaters in the house…in the summer! They must have been afraid for their lives!)
7. Never go swimming after you eat!
This is the worst thing you can do! If you do not wait the recommend time frame of 2-3 hours after eating you could suffer from an extreme case of “blocco di stomaco!” Apparently, there have been documented cases of people dying because they did not follow the “2-3 hour rule!”
There are no do’s and dont’s for this one…just “cures” to aid in digestion. The choices are endless…there’s calcium carbonate, enterogermina (probiotics), probiotic yogurt, and of course, a shot of liquor after dinner (the “digestive” of choice here is usually Mirto, which is native to Sardegna). I guess this one is the least far-fetched, I mean, North Americans complain about digestion problems all the time-I guess the difference is that Italians actually do something about it!
So, there you have it! I’ve purposely left out a few “tales” and surely, I’ve completely missed some.
What superstitions or myths do you find over-the-top?! Or, dare I say, which ones do you or your family take as seriously as the Italians do? I’d love to hear them..leave a comment and humor me!