I grew up in an Italian household with my parents, my Sicilian grandmother and my aunts and uncles. My Grandmother believed that if anyone in our family was feeling sick, had a headache, stomachache, or was just having bad luck, that someone around us gave us the Malocchio. Malocchio is when a jealous or envious person gives you a look, casting a spell on you and causing harm to you. My grandmother would say, “Someone gave you the evil eye and put a curse on you.”
If anyone complained about feeling sick, my grandmother would run to her room, find her necklace with a big Italian horn dangling from it and immediately put it around our neck. The Italian horn represented the horned animal the moon goddess and was considered to be sacred. Every Italian house had an Italian gold horn hanging some place in sight to protect their families from evil spirits and misfortune.
Once we had the Italian horn around our necks she would take us to the little Italian lady a few blocks away. My Grandmother said this woman had the power and knew how to get rid of the Malocchio. This old woman would have us sit down, she would fill a small bowl with holy water and have you put a few drops of olive oil into it. If the oil in the bowl formed a circle and got larger then we were diagnosed with having the malocchio. As the oil separated from the water she would tell us to make the sign of the cross and say, “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” While we said this, she put her hands on our forehead and also made the sign of the cross on our forehead. She kept her hands on our forehead and she said a prayer in Italian.
Informant: The informant of this folklore is my grandmother Rosemarie Formica. She has lived her whole life in New York and is in her eighties. She grew up in Rosebank, New York a very Italian/Irish Community. My Grandmother preserves several Italian folk stories from her past.
Analysis: This is one of my favorite pieces of folklore I have heard. I have personally seen my grandmother give the malochio to someone and its hilarious. Although, it is a very serious ritual my Grandmother loves to joke with the original version and use it on NFL football players. Whenever I am watching a football game my grandma will come watch and give the opposing team’s player the malochio. This seems to be almost a version of voodoo.