Italy may be a tiny country; a boot shaped peninsula with two small islands that lives between two seas. It may be small compared to others, but its history, legacy and traditions were one day so grand they ruled over the whole world.
Anyone who has studied Italy’s geography knows that it is divided into many small regions. Anyone who has travelled to Italy however, knows just how unique each of these regions is compared to the next; each holds customs and traditions specific to its own lands, specific to its own placement within the long Italian boot. Italy truly is a patchwork of customs, and a mosaic of foods and traditions.
In order for it to work, every beautiful mosaic holds a little secret. No matter the amount of varying coloured glass tiles or stones, no matter their size – big or small it may be – a mosaic is always built on an underlying thread of cohesiveness and unity.
Italy may be fragmented into many different plots of lands, but the love for family, and the importance of the matriarch are something that remain unhinged right from the top of the boot down to its very heel. Many traditions and family heirlooms are passed down through the female line. It is not uncommon for a lullaby to have been passed down for generations, from grandmother to mother, from mother to daughter. It is not uncommon for special recipes to be passed down too, so that the food can be filled with the love and knowledge of the generations past.
Jewelry is also a very important and symbolic aspect of this passing down of love and memory. In older times, women used to wear lockets that held their loved one’s loose strands of hair, so that wherever they may be, their place next to their loved one’s heart would never falter.
Bracelets were also passed down, sometimes from grandmother to granddaughter, sometimes gifted when the young woman was still a baby.
This passing down of ‘memories’ is a very important aspect of Italian families. It is an aspect engrained so much in its roots it is rarely even acknowledged, for its existence is so old it is never questioned. It is a tangible tie that links who had been to who is now.
There are many beautiful pieces of jewelry to be found today, many theatre pieces which are easy to get hold of but that will unfortunately not last the tests of time. It is very tempting to opt for something easily accessible that will serve its purpose for a while, until it will be time for us to move on and say our farewells.
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It is also important however not to let legacies die, to breathe life into them and be a link in the long chain that has been created.
One may also start a legacy of their own, and when the time comes pass it down to a loved one. One may start a legacy of their own, so that one day, far down the generation’s line, a child will ask about the story of her great-great-grandmother’s necklace.
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