ENNA (SICILY) SEVENTY YEARS AGO

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When the Second World War was over, most women in Enna didn’t work outside the home. They were housewives, dependent on their fathers, and once they got married they were submissive to their husbands. You often saw many ladies dressed in black in the streets, the symbol of sorrow. The close relatives of those who died wore black to show their grief. Every time a person died, the walls on the streets were covered with death notices as if the whole town was mourning.
The duration of mourning varied according to the kind of relationship with the dead person, but usually were observed the following criteria: if the dead person was an uncle, a cousin, or someone not a close relative, the woman dressed in black for three months. If a child had been lost, the woman dressed in black for five years. If a sibling passed away, his or her sister dressed in black for three years. If the dead person was the husband, the widow dressed in black the rest of her life. I never saw my grandmother dressed in anything but black. She lost two children and her husband.
As for men, the duration of mourning was shorter than that of women. They usually didn’t dress in black suits for a long time, but confined themselves to wearing a black tie, an armband, a narrow band around their jacket collar, or sometimes they wore a black button on it.
In the afternoons, after having done their chores, the housewives used to sit on their chairs by the window and watch the people walking in the streets. At that time, Via Sant’Agata was unpaved, and in the early morning you could see the goats going along the street and the shepherd then selling their milk to the housewives. It was a very fresh product. The goats were white, long-haired, and quite tall with upright and coiled horns. Nowadays, there are people in the cities who have never even seen a goat!

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

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