Malocchio (Evil Eye)

May 22, 2015 9363

by Joseph Francis Michael Moscaritolo ("Growing up Italian")

My maternal grandparents Angelina Schiavo-DeFuria Abbatangelo and Francesco Paolo Gambacorta-Abbatangelo were from Ariano Irpino in the Province of Avellino of the Campania Region. They came to this country around 1913 and settled in the Readville section of Boston, MA.

My grandfather once told me that he met my grandmother while she was walking down a hill in Ariano Irpino carrying laundry to do a wash. He never liked to see a woman burdened in any way, so he approached her and carried her laundry. He certainly demonstrated his respect for women to all of his family by the way he treated my grandmother. When it was time to wash clothes he was always there at the ringer helping her. He would always be with her and was very protective.

I would say that he was also very jealous. Whenever another man would hug or give my grandmother attention you could always tell that it bothered him. He liked women and would not hesitate to freely talk to them, and give them vegetables from his garden. My grandmother knew most of them and this didn't bother her a bit. He was such a friendly man and would invite people into the house and they would always end up having a glass of his homemade wine. I remember when I was very young, probably 5 or 6; he would take me down to his wine cellar and give me a little taste of wine. It was a family joke that he did this and my mother reminded me of this quite often throughout my life.

Every Sunday dinner would have homemade wine with orange soda on the table to mix. I loved my grandparents so much. I always think back about them and how they helped mold my life. I carry many of the family traditions that my parents and grandparents demonstrated. I can still see my grandfather helping my grandmother cook and clean. I am so proud of my heritage and love being Italian.

Something that really stands out to me about my grandmother was that whenever anyone had a headache they would come to see Angelina. She would do the malocchio for them. She would get the evil to leave them and then their headache would be gone. She would always be embarrassed to do this in front of anyone so she would take the person to her pantry counter to get rid of their headache. I must admit that she did this to me several times when I was young because I got headaches quite often.

She would fill a soup dish with water and say prayers while making the sign of the cross at their forehead. Then she would pour a bit of olive oil into the water while still saying her prayers. Next she would take a knife and cut the oil in a cross to get it to separate. Once this happened she would take a stick match and light it. After it was lit she would make the sign of the cross over the dish and drop it in the water to burn the evil which would get rid of the headache. She said prayers throughout the entire time. The prayers were in a whisper and the sign of the cross happened quite often throughout this entire process.

Once the match burned out she could tell if the headache would be gone. The separation of the oil and water would determine if the headache was eliminated. At times she would admit that the headache would not leave due to the oil and water separation. I can still see her being shy and not wanting anyone to watch her do the malocchio. Sometimes I would peek around the corner to the pantry. Many friends and family would come to Angelina for this.

Sunday afternoon was always popular as the entire family would be sitting in the back yard under the grapevine. Before you knew it the yard was full with friends and neighbors. There was always coffee and desert for everyone. My mother was a fantastic baker so there was always plenty of Pal's homemade cake and cookies for everyone to enjoy. My mother was known as the best baker around. She could go to a bakery, buy a piece of pastry, then go home and duplicate it by associating it with one of her recipes. She had such a gift of baking. Never failed, there was always someone in the yard who would go to the pantry counter with Angelina to do the malocchio. These are wonderful memories.

"Growing up Italian". Boston, MA

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