Author Archives: Jocelyn Torres

Carnival – Italy

Carnival di Frascati

This is an Easter festival which is about 15 to 20 days in winter. People wear costumes during this time. The last day of the carnival, which is a Tuesday, is the most important. On this day a big statue the size of a building is put on a stake and burned. The statue is made of wood and paper. The statue imitates the Neapolitan character Pulcinella. The Frascati Pulcinella wears the all white costume like in Napoli but unlike the original it has a big penis. It is a way of mocking the Neapolitan carnival. The burning is accompanied by fireworks.

The whole day mimics a funeral sad music is played and people cry. The government and the big churches allow the people to do anything they want during the carnival, but once it is over the people of Frascati must go back to being responsible, law-abiding citizens. The people cry because their time of freedom has ended. I believe the burning of the statue signifies not only the end of freedom, but also as a representation of getting rid of authority and traditions which they have been forced to follow by the government and the dominating church.

Francesca attended the carnival when she lived in Frascati. She mentioned that it was lots of fun and that people truly cry at the end of the carnival because they are sad to be returning to work and school after having such a great time being free of responsibilities.

Fair – Italy

La Faggiolata

La Faggiolata is a fair which lasts for a week. It is a tradition practiced in the south of Rome in the city of Frascati, which is surrounded by country side. The downtown streets of the city are closed and long tables are built so that people have a place to sit. Each family that attends the fair must bring a dish from home to share with all the other people there. Typically, people eat faggioli. Faggioli is a stew made with tripe and tomato. The purpose of the fair is to meet new people. People purposely sit next to those they do not know in order to make new friends. She attended this fair in the mid 80s when she lived there.

She believes that the faggioli, which the fair is named after, is of peasant origin since the dish is not refined and because the dish was made fun of by those in higher social classes. She has attended this fair while she lived in Frascati, but did not mention whether she liked the tradition dish of faggioli.

I believe that this tradition might have started as something the peasant had to do. The sharing of the food seems like a way of giving to those less fortunate within the community. After people began to be better off, it became more a social gathering. Where women could show off their recipes, man could talk, and children could play with others.

Fair – Mexico

Feria de San Marcos– Saint Marcos Festival

This festival takes place during the entire month of April in the capital of Aguascalientes, Mexico. Veronica tells me that the entire city is shut down, and that the locals get jobs at the fair since their places of work are closed. Children love the month of April because they do not have to go to school and get to enjoy the month at the festival. She believes that the festival started because of the patron saint of this city, San Marcos. His day is marked on the Catholic Church’s calendar as April 25th, yet the people of Aguascalientes, called Hidrocalidos because of the hot springs, celebrate it during the entire month.

During the festival, there are carnival games, rides, and food. In addition, there are Folklore expositions. It is a way for the Hidrocalidos to show off those items that are typical to the region to tourists and the locals.  There are also bullfights which take place in the stadium downtown. The whole festival takes place downtown next to La Iglesia de San Marcos or St. Marcos Church. At the end of the festival, fireworks are displayed. When they are finished everyone cleans up and goes home, ready to start work and school the next day.

The festival has become extremely popular. It attracts many tourists and those wishing to return to their hometown every year. There is even a song dedicated to this festival. It is called “Alla Feria de San Marcos”. According to Veronica who attended the festival during the years she lived there, the festival has continued to grow because of the sharing of culture involved and the money it brings to the city.

I agree that the festival has grown and continues to grow because of the culture expositions and the profit made. In addition, I believe that the location of the city has a lot to do with the large crowds of tourists. Although, this city does not have beautiful landscapes, such as cities like Cancun and Acapulco, it is located in the heart of Mexico.

I attend the festival when I was about 10 and I loved it. It was like being at a Mexico themed Disney Land. There were rides, shows, and lots of people.


Franz, Carl and Havens, Lorena. The People’s Guide to Mexico. Mexico: Avalon Travel Publishing, 2006. p. 310

Festivals – Romania

Hora la Prislop

A colorful traditional event, taking place in a splendid wooded mountain setting, is “Hora la Prislop.” Held mid-August at Prislop Pass, situated along the northerly road which connects Maramures with Moldavia — two culturally rich regions in northern Romania — this festival attracts people from numerous regions who come, decked out in folk costumes, to mingle and enjoy the traditional music, songs and dance. The festival is marked by religious celebrations, with people still wearing traditional dress in neighboring villages. The majority of people belong to the Romanian Orthodox faith and it is not uncommon to come across processions of worshipers carrying flowers and icons to a church or monastery in honor of a significant event in the church calendar. In villages, such people most likely will be in traditional dress.

Georgiana has not attended this festival, but she heard about it from her family members, who she believes must have attended this festival. I believe this festival might have begun as a procession, but somewhere along the years people began bringing their traditional music, attire, etc. to show to those from other regions whom they often saw in the processions.


Rennon, Rosemary. Language And Travel Guide to Romania. Hippocrene Books, 2006. p. 262

Festival – Romania

Festivalul Danitinlor de Iarna

One of the grandest winter spectacle, taking place in Romania’s northwestern corner, is the “Festivalul Datinilor de Iarna” (Winter Customs Festival), organized in the town of Sighetu Marmatiei on December 27.

Masks hang from lamp posts and people pack the streets. More masks — part demon, part animal, part indescribable — hide the faces of young men who run through the streets as oversize cowbells hanging from their waists clang loudly. Far from idle Halloween fun, masks, here, are an old tradition, symbolizing fertility, the passing and renewal of time and the good and bad aspects of human nature. By the time the procession gets underway, everyone has caught the excitement and the anticipation matches that of teens at a rock concert. Accompanied by music and “colinde” (carols), some 40 to 50 groups representing virtually every village in Maramures region (Northwestern Romania) pass along the main street. All are in traditional dress, meaning, for girls and women, stiff white blouses with fancy work and puffy sleeves; white or flowered skirts partially covered by striped woven front and back panels; head scarves; embroidered black woolen vests; thick knee-high socks; a stiff ballet-type shoe called “opinci,” which laces criss-cross fashion over the socks; and white or black wool jackets. Large homemade bags, usually of a black and white checked design, hang by long twisted wool from shoulders. Some walkers reach into these bags to toss rice or grain toward the viewers which represents both prosperity and ridding oneself of bad fortune. Boys and men don similar jackets or a white, long-haired cloak, wide white pants, loose shirts, tooled leather belts, boots and tall hats of curly black or gray wool.

When a group reaches the reviewing stand, they earn a few minutes in the spotlight for a carol, a folk dance or a tune on old instruments such as the “trambita,” an extremely long horn, or the “buhai,” a small barrel through which horsehairs are pulled. Some young men ride beautiful horses with evergreen and ribbons braided into the mane and tails and red tassels hanging from the bridle. Gorgeous handmade saddle cloths are ablaze with patterns of colorful flowers. Signaling the end, a horse-drawn sleigh filled with white-jacketed youths, musicians and of course, Santa Claus passes by the crowd. Throughout the afternoon, folk musicians, singers and dancers perform from a stage set up by city hall.

The purpose of this festival seems to be to attract good luck for the new year and prevent bad luck. I also believe it is a way of welcoming the new year which is approaching soon.


Oxford Business Group. The Report Romania 2008. p. 189

Festival – Romania

December 31 Festival

In many villages, especially in the northeastern province of Moldavia, December 31 is the big day — not eve, but morning. Tradition-packed outdoor events are taking place in all the bigger villages in the province, despite the low temperatures and clouded skies.
First, a choir of school girls sing old carols. Animal skin winter jackets fail to completely hide their embroidered blouses, flowered belts and long striped skirts from which the lacy edge of white under-skirts peeks. Colorful hand-woven shoulder bags and black head scarves complete the costumes which are unique to the area.

Soon, this idyllic scene gives way to the whistles and shouts of young men who gallop out for a spirited dance of the “caiuti,” or horses. With amazingly fast foot movements, punctuated by high kicks and boot-slaps, they maneuver themselves and white cloth horse heads, attached to their waists and adorned with embroidery, tassels and a multitude of colored pom poms. In olden days, white horses were believed to be messengers bringing life and luck and this dance symbolizes the bond between farmers and the animals that pull their wagons and aid in working the land.

A clack, clack, clack signals the arrival of the “capra” (goat). A guaranteed crowd pleaser, the carved wooden head is attached to a long pole which the bearer manipulates to noisily open and close the mouth as he dances around. Any resemblance to a real-life animal has been disguised with long ribbons, a towering headdress and other adornments that flashed into the creator’s mind. This dance once foretold an increase in shepherds’ flocks along with abundant crops in the new year. Today’s antics are lighthearted, with many a satirical reference to the manners and morals of the villagers.

Another festival staple is the dance of the bears — the two-legged costumed variety. Accompanied by their Gypsy trainer and a youth beating a tambourine-type instrument, the animals crawl through the crowd. Reaching the center, they perform a dance until eventually, the bears fall dead on the ground. After their hearts are taken by the trainer, they return to life, theoretically, a more gentle one. Even today, more bears exist in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains than any other place in Europe and this ancient rite suggests the power of man to tame nature.

Throughout the festival, masked figures run about, banging anything that makes noise, to frighten away any stray bad spirits that might have invaded the merrymaking. This is another reference to pre-modern days when people believed that spirits of the deceased wandered the Earth between Christmas Eve and January 6. After young orators offer rhyming chants of welcome and good wishes for the new year, the mayor presents round braided loaves of bread — symbolizing abundance and rich harvests — to each participant.

Following the spectacle — in a scene repeated in villages and cities throughout Moldavia — groups of children, dressed as bears, horsemen or Gypsies, make the rounds of their neighborhoods. Announcing themselves with a jangling bell, they touch the homeowners with a flower-adorned stick while chanting a verse invoking them to be “strong as stone, quick as an arrow, strong as iron and steel.” In return, they receive fruit, candy, a pastry or some coins.

Georgiana also told me the following:

I saw the winter celebration festivities in Moldova; my father is born in a bigger village in Moldova and I remember going to my grandparents for Christmas and seeing them. Again, these are also popular tourist destinations and they are well preserved also because of this reason.

Although the festival attracts many tourists, the locals do not stop having fun. It seems that everyone takes part in the festival. The festival has many activities and separate traditions which are incorporated into one end of the year celebration. Georgiana mentioned that she greatly enjoyed attending the festival. I feel this is an attraction well-liked by both tourists and locals.

Festival – Romania

Targul de Fete

Targul de Fete or Maidens’ Fair is a well-known Romanian festival, which takes place in July atop Mt. Giana. This mountain is about 20 miles west of Campeni, which is located in the province of Transylvania. In the past decades, it served as an opportunity for young men to meet girls from neighboring villages. Everyone wore their finest traditional attire because the meetings usually led to marriage.

The festival still continues to this day but its purpose is no longer to find a partner for marriage. Life is less isolated and young people do not need help meeting others. Currently, the festival is a time for traditional attire, food, music, and dance. Well-known folk artists perform at this festival every year.

Georgiana says that she attended the festival twice when she was younger, but attended it as a tourist. She did not participate in the traditional ceremonies. Instead, she was involved in the more modern celebrations, which include fairs and popular music concerts along with other events. The festival has become an annual destination for tourist but it is also popular within the community.

I thought it was interesting that although Georgiana visited as a tourist she was not interested in taken part of the tradition aspect of the fair. This could either be due to the fact that she is a tourist from within Romania and not an international tourist or because she was a young girl interested in new trends.


Roberts, James. The Mountains of Romania. Cicerone Press Limited, 2005. p. 167

Food – Italy


Piadina is thin Italian flat bread similar to a Mexican tortilla that is typical to the South Romanian region of Italy. It is present at every event, whether formal or informal. She learned it from her family who lived in the country side. She says that she has only seen it in the South region of Rome. It is usually eaten with very simple ingredients like ham, broccoli, and cheese. She believes it is because they are cheap and easy to get.

I found it interesting that she wanted to make it clear that no other Italians except for the ones in the region mentioned knew how to make proper piadina and they were the only ones who ate it regularly. Food is a big factor when telling groups apart. When we think of Italy we usually think about pastas and of course pizza. Yet, pizza is typical of Napoli not all of Italy, although the majority of Italians do eat pizza. She wanted to make it clear that piadina is the food that made that region special gastronomically speaking.


May, Tony. Italian Cuisine: The New Essential Reference to the Riches of the Italian Table. Italy: Macmillan, 2005. p. 63

Games – United States of America


In this game, which is usually played at night and can be played both indoors and outdoors, a person is chosen to be the seeker. The seeker must first count to sixty in a corner to give the other players a chance to hide. When the seeker has counted to sixty, he must find all those who are hiding. Once the seeker finds a person in hiding, he must tag him and then the person tagged becomes the seekers helper. The seeker and all those tagged must keep seeking and tagging until all the players have been tagged. The first person tagged becomes the new seeker if they decide to play again.

The way the original seeker is chosen is especially interesting. One can become the seeker by being the last one to call not it when everyone has agreed to play. The other way of being chosen is through a counting game called “bubble gum”. First, the players agree upon a number which will be used later on, and they get in a circle. In the circle they put their hands into fists and one person becomes the self assigned counter. The counter repeats the following while hitting first the fist, which he is not using to count, and then everyone else’s fists with his counting fist:

(number is 5)

Bubble gum, bubble gum in a dish who many pieces do you wish..1,2,3,4,5

The person whose fist is hit last is free of being the seeker. The count is repeated until there is only one person left standing. The last one standing becomes the seeker. If the counter is hit last, then someone else becomes the counter, again this role is self-assigned.

Ricardo learned both hide-n-seek and bubble gum from his cousins. He plays the game because he enjoys it and because it is a fun way to get active.

I do not know why one must hide but I believe there must be a reason for it besides to just make the game more interesting. The fact that this game is played at night is to make it difficult for the seeker to find the hiders. It is also not rare to have those hiding scare the seeker, even though they risk being tagged.

Game – United States of America

La Migra

La Migra begins by the choosing of two teams. One team becomes the immigrants and the other team becomes the immigration official (la migra). Two team captains, who are either self assigned or nominated by the other players, pick their team members and which role they will play. Then a barrier is usually chosen, this can be a fence or anything which separates to sides. A jail and a safety point are also chosen. The jail is on the immigrant’s territory and the safety point is on la migra’s territory. Once all of this is decided the officials count to ten giving the immigrants a chance to cross the border which was pre-assigned. The immigrants must run across the border and through la migra, which is allowed to hit the immigrants, without getting caught and sent to jail. In jail the player is out once tagged by another player who has already reached the safety point. These players risk being jailed, since the after all are still immigrants. The way to win the game if you are on la migra’s side is by jailing all the immigrants. The immigrants win by getting all their players to the safety point.

I asked Ricardo why he played the game and he told me that he has heard his parents many times talk about how people have to cross the U.S. border and go through this everyday. He feels it is a way of experiencing that which his parents and others have done. He believes it is a Mexican tradition. He also plays it because he thinks it is funny. I think this has to do with the hitting involved. Kids often find violence funny.

La Migra is a fairly recent game. An exact author is unknown, although a few kids claim that they invented it. This is fascinating because I use to play a game similar to this one except instead of immigrants and the immigration, one team was the cops and the others were robbers. This game seems to be a spin off of the game I use to play as a kid. This is a great example of how much a child is effected by what he hears his parents say.