Note: I wrote this especially for Friday the 13th. Blogger was down this morning. Coincidence? I think not.
My series protagonist, Pat Montella, would tell you that she inherited plenty of her family's Italian superstitions. Today being Friday the 13th, it's the perfect day to talk about them.
As you might expect, Pat and I grew up with the same superstitions. The Santangelos always began each New Year by eating pork the first thing after midnight, to bring us all luck in the coming twelve months. My dad's folks were farmers who planted their root vegetables on March 19th, so St. Joseph would bless the crop. And if you ever felt inspired to express your pleasure about someone's garden--"Look at those pretty roses!" or "My, the tomato plants are big this year!"--you always had to follow the comment with "God bless 'em!" Otherwise the plants might wither and die.
My mom told of how her grandmother would make a cross from silver knives and place it out at the end of her yard in the summer, so lightning would hit them instead of the house. Silver conducts electricity. Whether she knew it or not, she was making a lightning rod. Another thing Mom did was to bring home palm blessed by the priest on Palm Sunday and put a piece in each room of the house. This also was to protect the house from lightning. Interestingly enough, lightning actually did hit our house once. The only consequence was that it short-circuited the bathroom outlet. The bathroom was the only room with no palm. Call me crazy but I still keep a piece in each room.
The title of this blog? Yes, that was one of their superstitions, too.
All this said, my family didn't much believe in the Malocchio (that is, the Evil Eye. Mom used to pronounce it malorky. Other Italian Americans I know say maloiks). One of our neighbors down the block mounted a rack of real bullhorns on her garage. I never did find out why cow horns were supposed to be protection, but this particular women was certain that one of the neighbors on either side was giving her the Malocchio. I remember trying to explain the horns to my Pennsylvania Dutch friends.
Someone once gave me a necklace with a horn amulet, which I've even worn together with a crucifix. Doesn't hurt to hedge one's bets.
Peace, good luck and God bless,