At the dawn of 2017, fireworks surrounded Pontelandolfo’s iconic tower! Pontelandolfesi bundled up against the cold mountain air, hugged each other and cheered. In Flagtown, New Jersey illegal fireworks boomed in back yards. We peered out the window and cheered – nah three people cheering loudly wasn’t the same as being in a village surrounded by other cheering folks.
Messages of good wishes whipped through cyber space. WhatsApp and FaceBook Messenger made me feel like I was in that piazza shouting auguri! That’s a big lie. What I was really doing was shouting *&^%$ every time the muscles in my left thigh did the “I’m gonna get you back now” flash of pain dance. I came back to New Jersey and had my left hip replaced the week before Christmas. By New Year’s Eve my brain and legs were functioning but my left leg was still really angry at me. Having spent a few weeks lying around between physical therapy sessions, I really had a chance to think about my life and I had an epiphany. The Village that is Pontelandolfo is incredibly similar to the Village that each of us creates to survive 21st century life with out nervous breakdowns. Here are some examples –
Being a hospital scaredy cat, I was blessed to have a village of women friends who took shifts hanging out in the hospital with me. Providing Jack with an opportunity to dash out and a sense of safety for me. Last year, when Zia Vittoria was in the hospital in Benevento, Italia, her grandson, Nicola made sure that folks were lined up to visit and check in. We see that kind of neighbors helping neighbors not only in my precious Pontelandolfo but in all kinds of neighborhoods across the world.
During the holiday season, Pontelandolfesi rally creating cultural events that engage everyone. Pontelandolfo’s crafters and artigianal foodies sell their wares at the two day holiday market. Wait?! Don’t we have those in towns across America too? We do. It is an opportunity for the local folks to share their talents and make some money. Musical, literary and theatrical events are scheduled in many Italian villages. In the USA we dash to local productions of the Nutcracker, Scrooge and Handel’s Messiah. Different and yet the same, people all over the world enjoy the culture of their holiday seasons.
I am a culture lover and sadly admit that my New Jersey hometown feels like a culture wasteland. Possibly because we are so close to Philadelphia, Princeton and New York the community doesn’t organize many holiday cultural events beyond religious services. Sadly, I am not in the Sannio hills and am missing both Casalduni’s and Pontelandolfo’s La Befana celebrations. I will bet that a quick google search will turn up a “Three Kings Day ” Celebration somewhere in New Jersey.
La Befana Celebration in Alghero, Sardinia.
Religious festivals, community picnics, community theatre, local musical groups, writer’s groups, book clubs, local dance companies – these things exist everywhere. It doesn’t matter what religion someone is, what their native dress looks like, or what side of the ocean they live on, all of us enjoy belonging to and participating in community life.
May 2017 provide each and everyone of us with the village and sense of community we need.
Happy New Year ! Buon Anno! Bonne Année! 新年快乐 Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!
Gutes Neues Jahr! あけましておめでとうございます Feliz Año! Šťastný nový rok!
سال نو مبارک С Новым Годом! Feliz Ano Novo! Gelukkige Nuwejaar!
Baci e abbracci! Ci Vediamo!