Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Happy Communism (I mean, Labor) Day!

Yesterday, May 1, was Labor Day here in Italy. Labor Day in the U.S. has always meant the end of summer, new school supplies, and the last day to wear white shoes without being ticketed by the fashion police.

Here in Italy, however, it's become a mini-celebration of communism. That's right--Italy has a communist party, and they literally paint the town red on May 1. Here's a photo of the nearby village adorned with red flags:
This is also the start of the sagra season. A sagra is an outdoor cook-out open to the public, with music and dancing. Sagras are held as fundraisers by many types of organizations, like local soccer teams, youth groups...and, yes, the communist party.

I took this photo of the knick-knack booth (sorry it's so blurry...). This cracked me up, because at the other sagras, there's often a booth with toys and balloons for sale. New toys and balloons. And the communist booth? The items were all second-hand with no fixed just gave whatever you wanted to donate.
This may not seem strange to Americans, where garage sales and thrift shops are common. But Italians never have garage sales, and I've never seen a thrift shop anywhere. If Italians have old clothes to donate, they give them to the church. So I guess it's fitting that the communists wouldn't sell anything new, just in case it might be seen as too (gasp!) capitalist.

Here's a shot of the band warming up. I'm not sure what the giant laminated pigs are supposed to represent. Frankly, with my American accent, I was afraid to ask.

Note the tuba on the guy traded off between an electric guitar and a tuba. Another guy manned the accordian, and the drummer brought up the rear. I suppose we now know why communists aren't particularly known for their musical excellence.

Perhaps the communists felt better when they saw someone actually dancing to their son. He loved it.

Although I did tell my husband that if our son started marching around with straight arms and legs, we'd probably have to leave. If not, someone would have surely come to revoke my American passport.
Most Italians scoff at the communists, and don't really take them seriously. An often heard sentiment is: "Sure, it's easy to be a communist in Italy, with their nice cars, fine wine and la bella vita. Why don't they go live in Russia? THEN we'll see how much they like being communist!" Lots of gesticulation is required when saying this. If you want to give it a try, here's what to do:
1. Hold out your hand, palm up.
2. Now bring your fingertips up and touch them to the tip of your thumb.
3. Wag your hand back and forth.
4. The speed of the wagging must increase with the volume of your voice.
Now you're talking!

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