Old Sicilian Proverbs

italian vs sicilianMy husband, who I fondly called the Sicilian, is not referred to as having an Italian heritage, because his grandmother would rise from the grave and curse me.  Technically Sicilians are Italians, but don’t try to tell them that. They are a people and culture unto themselves.  And per my Sicilian, his family was steeped with myths, adages, and possibly even a curse or two.

After Katrina destroyed the home of his elderly Aunt Anna, his mother’s only sister as cry and laughshe was usually described, this little old Sicilian lady came to live with us.  When the devastation of Katrina, which submerged her home in 9 feet of toxic water was mentioned, she would say:  You have to laugh to keep from crying.  Wise words. Words that apply to many situations.

crows on houseGod forbid Aunt Anna  saw a crow. A crow  sitting on your house meant death would visit soon. If this adage were true, I should already be dead. Perhaps I am and I don’t know it.

Once a baby, twice a child was her excuse for spilling food at the table or her need for help taking a shower, and getting in and out of the car. This does not make sense at first, but contemplate for a few minutes how as adults we become child-like as we age. Can’t imagine anything? Perhaps the mention of adult diapers will help.

She burned black candles. black candlesDoing this was tantamount to calling down the wrath of God on someone. A curse would be put on you and your family should you ever burn a black candle against someone.  Doing this would result in being shunned. I don’t understand how this works, but these first generation Sicilians in America did so you better not burn any black candles.

birds in rainThe birds are crying for rain.  Of course these squawking birds better not be crows. (See crow comments above.) I still don’t understand  how birds making noise meant rain was coming. I heard birds making noise after a storm passed and asked if these birds were crying for rain? I was told, “None essere in asino intelligente.”   Aunt Anna said that meant, “Don’t be smart,” but I think a  better translation might be, “Don’t be a smart ass!”

Next is  a handy phrase that Aunt Anna’s Grandfather, who was a Big Boy by anyone standards, often said. When when asked if he wanted a second helping, his response would always be, “Si, dopotutto siamo in America.”  Yes, after all we are in America. 
America was the epitome of wealth, success, and the good life to these first Sicilian immigrants to New Orleans. So, when in doubt, have another cannoli, after all you are in America.





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