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Amore, Cioccolato e Carnevale (love, chocolate and Carnevale)

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This month Darla and I learned all about cioccolato ed amore (cho-ko-lah-toe ed ah-more-a) chocolate and love. About two weeks ago mamma and papà took us on a road trip to Hershey, Pa., where we got to see le luce (lay loo-chay) the lights set up for the holidays. After that we stayed in the truck with mamma while papà went inside Hershey’s Chocolate World for some dolciumi (dol-chee-oo-me) candy. Hershey is famous for their chocolate in the United States, especially its chocolate kisses.

While we waited outside, mamma started talking to us about Italy and what is happening there in February.

First, she told us about il Giorno di San Valentino, a holiday celebrated on Feb. 14 in honor of St. Valentine. He was born in Umbria and later moved to Rome where he began to sposare (spo-sar-a) to marry Christian couples in secret. When Emperor Claudius II heard of this, he demanded that Valentino renounce his faith. Valentino refused and was killed on Feb. 14, 269. Over 200 years later, the pope decided to replace a pagan holiday celebrated from Feb. 13-15 with the celebration of Valentine’s Day. In the following centuries the holiday became a major cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and love in many regions of the world.

“So that is why papa is buying chocolate,” mamma told us. “I love the chocolate in Italy, especially Baci (Bah-chi) kisses and Ferrero Rocher!” We also know she likes Nutella. Then mamma told us about the locks of love she used to see on many bridges as she traveled around Italy. These are lucchetti (loo-ket-ee) padlocks which lovers attach to a bridge and then lock and throw away the key. Usually, they write their names or initials on the padlock.

Since we were still waiting mamma told us febbraio (feb-rye-oh) February is also well known in Italy for the beginning of Carnevale celebrations. All across il paese (eel pie-a-zay) the country this winter festival takes place with sfilate (sfee-lah-tay) parades, balli in maschera (bal-lee een mas-ker-ah) masquerade balls, divertimento (dee-vair-tee-men-toe) entertainment, musica (moo-zee-kah) music, and feste (fes-tay) parties. Children love to throw coriandoli (core-e-ahn-do-lay) confetti at each other and mischief and pranks are common. A famous saying during Carnevale in Italy is “a Carnevale ogni scherzo vale,” which means “anything goes at Carnevale.”

So now we all have learned some new things about Italy and some new parole (pah-role-a) words! After a fun day we snuggled on the way home.

We wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day and hope you enjoy some yummy chocolate. We would love some too, but it will make us sick. But we do know that we will get lots of love, not just this month but all year round!

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