Crows and Falling Pictures

Background: My informant is a 52-year-old with Italian heritage. Both his mother and father are from Mola di Bari, a seaside town in Southern Italy. The informant was born in Toronto, Canada and moved to Santa Monica, California at a young age. While he was not born or raised in Italy, the strong Italian roots in his family meant that Italian culture and tradition was still very prevalent in his household. The informant is also my father.

Context: During a car ride, I asked my father about interesting Italian folklore he knew about while growing up in an Italian family.

Main Piece: “My mom said, in Italy, whenever a picture fell over on its own, unprompted, or black crows started to appear outside, it was an omen for something bad that was boing to happen or something bad had already happened that had not been communicated. The folklore is a picture literally just falls over unprompted or falls off a wall, or if you are outside and you see a bunch of black crows and ravens congregating outside your house, it’s an omen.

Interpretation: I was not surprised to learn that seeing crows outside of you house is a terrible omen in Italian culture, because I was previously aware that crows are seen as symbols of bad luck. However, what did interest me was the pictures falling down. Perhaps this is attributed to Christianity and the belief of the underworld. Perhaps, when a picture falls down, it is a sign of the underworld calling to someone or something and this is why it is seen as a terrible omen. If you ever hang up a picture in Italy, make sure it is well secured!