New Years Eve was celebrated with an explosion of dinners, dancing, and fireworks as in many other places, and for most of the party-goers, the 1st of January was a chance to sleep it all off and rest before getting back to the daily grind. And in Italy, daily grind it was, at least until the 6th of January, which is when everything comes to a halt once again for the "Epifania" - epiphany.
In the last article, we spoke about the tradition of Santa Lucia, but this is a custom you will find only in certain parts of northern Italy, Emilia included. That is because, depending on the historical influence recieved through the ages, every region has its own perculiarities; "posto che vai, usanze che trovi" is a popular saying in Italy, which means that wherever you go, you will find different habits.
Italy is a country standing on fairly solid catholic roots, but in the last thirty years or so, many foreign concepts and traditions have weedled their way into daily life. Our country does have the tendency to consider anything foreign as glamorous, and even when it comes to Christmas, there is a medley of pagan and religious symbolism going on, unquestionably accepted by all.
And please - we are not talking about just any old cheese - this is the world-famous, award-winning and closely safe-guarded KING of all cheeses - Parmigiano Reggiano. Take a trip through one of Italy's finest traditions.
The area around us is enormously rich in history, and the nearby castle of Compiano, with its variously-themed museums is close-to-home evidence of this. But there are many more historical landmarks to be found in the lower Parma region (Parmense), and also in the opposite direction - towards Pontremoli and fascinating discoveries.
Any Italian knows that the word "potato" has a frequently used cheeky double meaning, which can be translated as.... ahemm....oh dear I'm blushing......the female private part, but more generically, pretty women. The femminists amongst you will not be overly pleased, but I take no responsability!!