CRISTOPHER COLUMBUS AND SICILY

Cristopher Columbus, the man who discovered America on October 12, 1492, must have known and loved Sicily a lot, for, whenever he arrived in a new land, he compared it with his beloved Sicily.

This can be seen in his logbooks.

When he explored Cuba, on October 28, 1492, he wrote in the logbook: “The island is full of very beautiful mountains, although not very high, and all the remaining part of the island is also high and resembling Sicily.”

During his second travel to America, when he landed in Puerto Rico on 17 September 1493, he compared the island to Sicily, because they both had a triangular shape.

When he finally arrived in Jamaica on May 5 1494, he wrote in the logbook that the island was bigger than Sicily.

Apparently, Sicily was in the heart and mind of Cristopher Columbus, for he used it for comparison, as if Sicily were his home island.

On the other hand, in the fifteenth century, Sicily was a point of reference for the whole of Europe, in the fields of art, literature and science.

Ettore Grillo author of these books:

– November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

SNOW IN ENNA, SICILY

It was cold during the winter in Enna. To warm up the rooms, people made use of braziers burning charcoal slack. It was customary to cook small pieces of sausage or a few potatoes, wrapped in yellow, thick paper of the kind used to wrap pasta, in the charcoal. We children vied with one another to eat a small piece of that delicacy.

Since the climate was colder than today, the roofs of the houses were white with snow almost all winter. Whenever I came home from school, I had the bad habit of warming up my frozen feet and hands in front of the brazier. The sudden contact of my cold hands and feet with the heat of the brazier caused me chilblains. My fingers and toes had purple hues and itched. To cure them, I wore thick woolen socks and gloves.

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History

Today it snows in Enna like seventy years ago. Obviously, despite climate changes, the earth will survive!

Ettore Grillo author of these books:

– November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

TRADITIONAL SICILIAN LUCKY FRUITS AND LEGUMES FOR NEW YEAR’S EVE

According to Sicilian tradition, on New Year’s Eve, a particular kind of lucky fruit and legumes cannot be left out of the dinner: lentils, grapes and pomegranates.

Lentils and grapes have a rounded shape, like coins. Anyone who eats them during New Year’s Eve dinner will have a lucky, money-rich year.

The pomegranate is the fruit that made Kore fall in love with Hades.

The myth says that Demeter’s daughter, Kore, was gathering flowers on the shores of Lake Pergusa, Sicily, when Hades came out of a cave with his chariot drawn by four swift steeds, abducted her and led her to the underworld.

Upon her arrival in the Kingdom of Hades, Kore refused to become his wife. She wanted to go back to the surface of the earth and stay with her mother, but Hades resorted to an expedient. To make her fall in love with him, he offered her some pomegranate grains. As soon as Kore ate six pomegranate grains, her love for Hades blossomed and she became the queen of the underground, under the new name of Persephone.

Nowadays in Sicily, lovers eat pomegranate grains on New Year’s Eve to keep faithful to each other in the year to come. On the other hand, those who do not have a lover eat this fruit to find a soul mate.

As for me, even if I am not a superstitious person, I am going to eat lentils, grapes, and pomegranate grains at New Year’s Eve dinner. You never know!

Ettore Grillo author of these books:

– November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

THE ROCK OF CERES IN ENNA (SICILY)

Ceres is the Latin name for Demeter, the well-known goddess of agriculture in Greek Mythology. Since the Romans had no gods of their own, they adopted the Greek gods.

The Romans revered Ceres so much that, in times of famine, even the Senate of Rome used to send a delegation to Enna, where it was believed to be the home of Ceres, to appease the goddess.

The Rock of Ceres is near the Castle of Lombardy. According to a friend of mine, who is an archeologist, the ancient temple of Ceres, the main in Sicily, was just on the Rock of Ceres and collapsed because it was too close to the edge of the rock.

Whether my archaeologist friend’s thesis is true or not, one thing is certain: The place is full of charm and mystery. From up there you can see almost all of Sicily: Mount Etna with its plumes of smoke, the Madonie mountain range, the beautiful town of Calascibetta, and much more.

When a church or a temple has occupied an area, it leaves an atmosphere rich in sacredness in that place, which lasts for centuries and millennia. Standing on the top of the Rock of Ceres, you can feel this arcane energy of peace and mystery even now. The subtle scent of the Divinity never fades!

Ettore Grillo author of these books:

– November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

CHRISTMAS IN ENNA (SICILY)

The heart of the city of Enna is the Piazza San Francesco. It was built to serve people; to be a meeting place.

In the sixties, it was turned into a large parking lot, but in the eighties, it was given back to the citizens, and is now lit up for the Christmas holidays.

Here and there in Enna, you can come across a nativity scene. I recently visited one made by the boys and girls of the Catholic Action of Enna. They are very smart. Inside a small three-story building, they have created workshops for various cultural activities: to learn music, to learn painting, to do theater, to teach Italian to foreigners, and so on.

While I am talking about the crib, my thoughts go to Saint Francis of Assisi. He was number one in many fields. He was the first to make a nativity scene and the first to compose a poem in Italian. We can say that the Italian language was born with St. Francis of Assisi. His superb poem Canticle of the Creatures predates both Dante and the Sicilian school of poetry.

Reading Canticle of the Creatures in front of a nativity scene elevates the spirit!

Ettore Grillo author of these books:

– November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

BUCCELLATI AND BAGPIPE PLAYERS IN ENNA (SICILY)

Enna is a mountain city. It is quite cold in the winter, but the bagpipe players and the buccellati warm up the Christmas atmosphere.

Once families got together to make buccellati, typical Sicilian Christmas shortbread cakes that contained dried figs or ground almonds inside. Nowadays, they even put chocolate inside them.

They were cakes made to last all winter. I do not know what did they put in to make them last that long. I only remember that they remained soft and fragrant until the end of February, that is, two months after they had been made, without losing their organoleptic qualities.

Nowadays in Enna, families no longer make buccellati at home, because there are no wood-burning ovens in the houses, and it is much easier to buy them at the bakery. However, the delicious taste of the buccellati has not changed.

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During Christmas, bagpipe players walk the streets of Enna and warm our hearts. They remind us that one day a Great Master came down to earth to teach us what love is.

Ettore Grillo author of these books:

– November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

A RAINBOW IN ENNA (SICILY)

In my hometown of Enna, after two days of wind, rain and sleet, the rainbow appeared this morning. It means there will be good weather tomorrow.

The Old Testament reports that after the Flood, which lasted forty days, the rainbow appeared. It was the sign of the covenant between God and man. God regretted having sent the Deluge and promised that he would no longer punish the earth because of the wickedness of man.

As a sign of the alliance with man, he created the rainbow.

After bad weather, the rainbow appears. It is an allegory of life, which passes through an alternation of storm and sunshine. Sometimes it flows smoothly and sometimes stormy, but in the end, there is the rainbow to smile at life.

The rainbow has seven colors, as there are seven musical notes, seven days of a week, seven chakras, and so on. Number seven means good luck.

Certainly, there is something magic in the amazing seven-color arc that connects the sky to the earth!

Ettore Grillo author of these books:

– November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

MY REVIEW OF A FANTASTIC DISCOVERY BY ANTONIO ARRIGO

A Fantastic Discovery by Antonio Arrigo is a well-written and educative book. It tells the story of a great Sardinian scientist, Professor Brotzu, who discovered cephalosporin from which a powerful antibiotic is derived. The central government did not take into consideration his discovery. On the other hand, drug companies saw no profit potential from this antibiotic. Therefore, Professor Brotzu donated his discovery to the University of Oxford for the sake of science and humanity.

A Fantastic Discovery is a metaphor for life. How many intellectual works are unknown to the public even if they are the result of the creative genius of artists and scientists! However, the work of genius has its own inner energy, which cannot remain buried forever. This is the case of Professor Brotzu, who will remain alive in our hearts now and for future generations.

Ettore Grillo author of these books:

– November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

LUPINES ON THE DAY OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

December 8, 1934

Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which marks the beginning of the Christmas holidays. Every year on this day, the feast is celebrated in the Church of Saint Francis, also called the Church of the Immaculate Conception.

In front of the church there was a long line of market stalls. They sold lupines, bilberries, and another tasty fruit called holy oil. In the square, which we citizens of Enna call Saint Francis Square, even though its real name is Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, the city band played their wind instruments, drums, and cymbals nonstop. Then a litter with the statue of the Virgin Mary on it came out of the church. At least fifty brethren dressed in white robes and blue mantillas bore the heavy litter on their shoulders. The city band followed the litter, and we got into the procession behind the band.

The number of processions during the year in Enna is considerable. Every quarter has its own patron saint, who is taken in procession along the streets on the day of his or her feast.

When the procession was over, my mother bought four small paper bags of lupines, one for each of us.

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History

Ettore Grillo author of these books:

– November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

THE BASIC INGREDIENT TO MAKE CUCCÌA, THE DEVOTIONAL MEAL DEDICATED TO SANTA LUCIA

These days, many fruit sellers in Sicily display wheat grains, the basic ingredient to cook cuccìa, the traditional dish that some Sicilian families still eat on Santa Lucia’s day, December 13.

Today, while I was hanging about the marketplace, I saw some grains of wheat on display and  asked the fruit seller how to make cuccìa.

She said that the wheat grains should be kept soaking in water for two days. Only then can they be boiled. After they are cooked, just add some sugar before eating them. However, they can also be seasoned in different ways, for example with ricotta, honey, chocolate, candied fruit, and so on.

I love Santa Lucia. She is considered the protector of the eyes and sight. I feel that she is also the protector of another kind of eyes: the eyes of the soul, of the heart, of the mind.

Ettore Grillo author of these books:

– November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo