A cold invasion has hit Italy. Ruining for many, one of the nation’s typical annual picnic days. Which has me wondering if every nation has traditional picnic days. I really only know about the U.S. and Italy.
Americans, of course, are familiar with Memorial Day, the 4th of July, and Labor Day, among others. But ask any Italian, and they’d tell you that a picnic (pronounced “peek-a-neek-a”) is a must on the following holidays.
Traditional Italian Picnic Days:
- Pasquetta, or Little Easter — the day following Easter
- Liberation Day celebrating freedom from Nazi Germany — April 25
- Labor Day, or International Worker’s Day — May 1
- Republic or Flag Day, for the formation of the Republic — June 2
- Ferragosto, for the traditional summer holiday period — August 15
These traditions and the almost religious adherence to them (on both sides of the ocean) have always amused us. Especially here in Italy, where they not only include normal picnic foods like sandwiches and grilled meats. But they’re preceded by the ever-present pasta! And it’s all washed down with glasses of wine, and a thermos full of espresso!
Perhaps there’s too much of the rebel in us, but Mario and I prefer hitting the parks on less crowded days. Especially here, because it’s hard to find Italian parks with bathrooms. So any with facilities have long cues, and quickly become a nasty mess.
But this year’s cold, rainy weather also suggests the dreary gray political climate preceding the first Liberation Day in 1945.
Grayer than the weather outside my window this morning. Which has turned so cold and rainy we’ve lit the pellet stove again! Making us even happier to stay in our snug little home, grateful for the warmth.
But imagine with me the political climate preceding that first Liberation Day, 71 years ago.
I think of their wives, sitting at home with their children, fearful for all their lives. Waiting for the war, with its bombs and horrors to stop. Wondering when the end would come. The end which Italy and many European nations like Holland, Denmark, and Norway now commemorate, though on different days.
Old photographs like the following grant us a glimpse of the emotional fervor surrounding Liberation Day. The first taken in a piazza in Torino on the first Liberation Day. A great day for Italy, and for much of the world. Bringing rays of light to the political climate, and hope to the world at large.
[Image credits: 1st Liberation Day: by Giorgio Agosti – Istituto piemontese per la storia della Resistenza e della società contemporanea ‘Giorgio Agosti’, via Wikimedia Commons; CC BY-SA 2.5 it. A Partigiano: by Ugo Franchini – Own work, via Wikimedia; CC BY-SA 3.0.]
But a day perhaps truly appreciated only by those who lived through those dark times of fear and anguish.
Like the partigiano (partisan) in the second photo, wearing his official partisan cap. Brave men and women who, like him, struggled against the fascist, nazi dictators of the day.
I hope that great historical days like this never lose their true meaning.
That their significance will remain strong, and hopefully keep us and future generations from making the same mistakes. Stopping nations from invading others, like Nazi Germany did. And like even Italy herself did, under Fascism.
And helping us remember, too, that while here in Italy we celebrate liberation from Nazi Germany, Ethiopia celebrates their freedom from Fascist Italy just 10 days later.
Perhaps the cold wintry weather will hinder the picnicking. But hopefully nothing will ever dampen the parades and manifestations. And never dim our appreciation of freedom. Heartfelt appreciation like that liberally showed by Italians on Liberation Day 1945. Even from little old Italian nonnas (grandmothers)! (Like the one pictured in this touching photograph!)
Liberation Day. A day to celebrate everywhere. Because all people, everywhere deserve freedom from tyranny.