It doesn't require a monumental reason to give an Italian cause to celebrate--it stems from their zest for life. Christmas is no exception. Christmas is a month-long continuous celebration starting on December 8 and runs through early January.
Decorations are similar to those seen in the U.S. with tinseled trees, twinkle lights on buildings and windows, and nativity scenes. In lieu of Santa Claus, children in Italy believe in La Befana, an old woman who flies on a broom and brings presents. According to legend, the three Wise Men asked La Befana for directions to Bethlehem and asked her to join them, but she declined three times. It took an unusually bright light and a band of angels to convince La Befana that she must join the Wise Men, but it was too late. She never found the Christ child and has been searching for Him ever since.
On the eve of January 6, the Feast of Epiphany commemorating the day when the Wise Men arrived at the manger bearing their gifts, La Befana goes out on her broom to drop off stockings filled with treats to all the sleeping children of Italy.
To all those reading this blog, I send you warm wishes this Christmas and a very happy New Year!
My dictionary defines "award" as a prize, payment, or reward. Are award miles really all that? a prize? a reward?
I receive at least one email a day from my preferred airline offering me ways to increase my award miles or earn bonus miles. I am frequently asked to participate in award incentive programs and encouraged to "invite a friend" to do the same. Yet, more often than not, I'm told there are no award seats available when I try to cash the awards in on travel. Or, I'm forced to fly halfway around the world making 5 stops for what should be a 0-1 stop destination.
It's maddening! Airlines, please honor your advertising, or rename these "advantages" to something more appropriate, like useless award miles!
Chiesa (pronounced kee-ess-ah) and duomo (doo-oh-moh) are terms that Italians use to refer to churches. I have always used 'duomo' when speaking about a church assuming every Italian did too, until recently. A friend with Italian roots asked me what 'chiesa' meant--his family used the term when speaking of the little churches "back home." I had to admit that I had never heard the term before.
Come to find out, chiesa translates to church; duomo translates to dome. There are several large churches, primarily in the larger cities, that stand as famous landmarks today, such as St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence (picture left). Most of these are referred to as duomo--they each have a dome creating a major architectural feature. No less significant or impressive are other churches found throughout the smaller towns of Italy that do not have domes (like the Basilica of Santa Margherita in Cortona, pictured below) called chiesa.
Although duomo may be loosely used to reference any church by some, and chiesa may not be familiar at all to others, it is generally safe to simply refer to all Italian churches as basilica.