Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Devil & Angels, Halloween 2012 in Florence

Even Italians know that today is Halloween.  Accessing the automatic vending machine in the Florence station, a jack o' lantern glowed under the Italian for "Buy your ticket here," and a witch's hat 
suddenly appeared, placed atop the usual self service ticket symbol.

Italians haven't always known today is Halloween.
The festivities accompanying the original Celtic holiday All Hallows Eve,
when the dead visit their former haunts on earth,
have gradually become familiar only in the last 10 years or so.
I wrote the first Halloween column in Italian for the local Florence section
of La Repubblica during the '90s.  It was a real challenge to translate
"trick or treat."  I finally decided on dammi un dolcetto o ti faccio uno scherzetto
(give me a treat or I'll play a trick on you).
Looking at articles published later, I found that I was close to the mark--
my Italian colleagues now write dolcetto o scherzetto?

It is trick or treat time at the Children's Lending Library's
 annual Halloween party, a pure piece of America in Florence.
Above is Kathy Procissi, one of the library volunteers,
epitomizing an appropriate wicked party spirit in the company of her vampire grandchildren.
They are posing in front of the Haunted House.

This good witch is Karene Moser, who made the spectacular ghost cupcakes.  The spider and pumpkin themed cupcakes are the work of Sally Thompson...

...much appreciated by these angelic witch guests.

Besides refreshments and the Haunted House, there were also games for children.

Tinker Bell, aka Charlotte Kerignan, is playing one.

Towards the back of the party room, faithful Beautiful Florence blog photographer 
Emilia and myself walked into the actual library.
Founded in 1973 by a group of mothers, the Children's Lending Library is a primary source of
books in English for expatriate resident families.  Volunteers staff the library (open 10 am to 12 noon on Wednesdays, 4 pm to 6 pm on Thursdays, 10 - 10:45 am and 12 noon to 1 pm on Sundays).
It is located in a section of the St. James Episcopal Church undercroft (via B. Rucellai, near the train station).  Volunteers make donations to the church for the space, hold readings, and buy children's books and games.  The necessary revenue comes from annual membership fees (15 euro per year), fundraisers such as the Christmas party, the Easter egg hunt and the Halloween party.
This is why volunteers Alice Kenney, Ann Young and Barbara Maraventano
are collecting a 4 euro admission fee at the door.
They were also selling raffle tickets for the Welcome Great Pumpkin Cake 
(inspired by the Charlie Brownie TV special),
made by Italian volunteer Maurizia Pizzi.

The admission didn't deter devilish Hilary Scott and her angelic 17-month daughter
Ellie Calonaci from attending the Halloween bash.
Both were attracted to probably the only authentic
jack o' lantern in all Florence.

Happy Halloween!

1 comment:

  1. I remember when I arrived in Florence almost 40 years ago, no one knew about Halloween. My Halloween parties were a big hit with the Italians...