24 October 2010

mass & chestnuts

little hands

Students and families of Young One's school gathered Saturday for a mass to celebrate the start of the school year followed by a "castagnata." The mass was quick, and boy did my heart swell when I heard the children singing in Italian -- sweet, angelic elementary school voices led by a guitar-playing sister.  (I realize that this may be the extent of the music education.)  It's just a feel-good moment for me. The school we've chosen for Young One is very much Catholic; even her teacher is a woman with a habit, and I don't mean nail biting.

An unexpected benefit of this choice is the great sense of familiarity that all of this Catholic school business brings to me.  I like it -- the prayers before meetings, the child learning the sign of the cross, the celebration of this saint -- a canonized member of a local order of nuns, the mass, the focus on the family.  You see, I was born and raised Catholic and also received a good Catholic education in the south of Louisiana:  first here and then here.  I don't practice much now, and I'm not so sure how well I'd fit in anymore with some of my liberal views; however, Catholicism is a large part of my cultural identity (much like many Italians), and I'm deligthed to be able to pass that on to Young One. Once something becomes a part of your identity, it gets in your soul & it becomes hard to ignore.

happy girl

So. . . the school has an excellent reputation about town for academics and for being a school interested in the "whole child" and it's Catholic.  It's a win, win for me.  Monday we elect the class mother and the class rep for the Catholic school council.  From what I could understand Saturday, no one was admittedly in pursuit of the class mother position.  We shall see if that is just a bit of posturing;  one mom screams, "Pick me! Pick me! Pick me!" even if ever so subtle and with the ultimate amount of snob each time I see her.  My money is on her.

Castagnata :: A gathering for roasting of chestnuts -- chestnuts roasted on an open fire.  It's a favorite taste of fall for us.


  1. Sadly, I have never had chestnuts. I should have tried some in Rome when I saw them in front of the Spanish Steps.

  2. Anyone growing in this country has some catholicism in their cultural identity: it's in the architecture, in the arts and in the history and traditions. In this village, the gathering for the yearly castagnata is also on the sagrato of the church, after mass.

  3. To be happy with the school your child attends is so very important, so I can understand your feelings. we hope to attend a local Castagnata this coming weekend.

  4. Kelleyn: It took me a few years to decide that I like them. Now, I love them.

    Francesca: It's not quite the same where I'm from, but it is a large part of the cultural identity of many South Louisianians, believe me. (That fact often surprises many people.)

    LindyLou: Yes. Very important.

    Have a great day!

  5. Dana,
    I just discovered your blog, and am over indugling in enjoyment of your posts. I can relate to your comments about Catholicism, to a point. I was also raised Catholic in the U.S. and attended parochial schools through high school. I've not practiced since then, nor do I intend to. However, I'm thankful for the spiritual foundation it provided in my life. Being in Italy brings back fond memories of my childhood and the rituals that held such wonder for me. I can well understand wanting to share that with Young One.