“Italian Horn” (what we call it)
I’ve always wanted to look this up but never just did it. So yes, today, in the middle of a stupidly busy work day…here I go.
My grandma gave each of us granddaughters a golden version. I generally stay away from yellow tones unless they’re holding a really purty something else; this silver one came from my sister’s ventures to Italy. I want to say Venice or Milan? Not for sure at this point. Anyhow, as much as I’ve let go of most of my superstitions in the past few years, I find myself wanting to wear it when I know I’m going to need ancestral strength or something along those lines. So here are a couple things that tickled my funny bone (from here
The Evil Eye (Malocchio)
Concepts of the Evil Eye are some of the most ancient and prevalent superstitions of the entire Mediterranean. Every culture seems to have their own version of the Evil Eye and their own ways to combat it. One thing they all have in common is that the Evil Eye is caused by jealousy and envy. By coveting somebody’s possessions or more importantly admiring another family’s newborn baby can cause a curse, even if envious person did not mean it. My grandmother tells the story of how my aunt was the victim of the Evil Eye as an infant and got some type of “sleeping sickness” where she could hardly stay awake.
She took her baby to a local woman who could perform a test by dropping olive oil in a plate of water. The oil formed one large drop in the middle of the plate- a sure sign of the Evil Eye, but after chanting the right prayers that only women are allowed to know, the oil broke up into tiny droplets and spread out. This ritual broke the curse of the Evil Eye and my aunt was said to have gotten better immediately.
The Devil’s Horn (Corno)
An offshoot of the Evil Eye curse is the use of the Corno, or Devil’s Horn amulet. These twisted red coral, gold or silver amulets are often worn as necklaces by men to ward off curses on their “manliness” – very similar to a Mojo. They can often be seen sold in Italian jewelry stores and especially during Italian American festivals. Although most men who wear one will say it represents one of the horns of the devil, the Corno (also known as Cornuto or Cornicello) predates Christianity by thousands of years. Related to the Corno is the hand gesture known as the mano cornuta, which also wards off the Evil Eye by extending only the pinkie and index finger like a pair of horns and pointing it down. When this gesture is made pointing upward (similar to the heavy metal salute to the Devil) it is as an insult to somebody, meaning their husband or wife is unfaithful.
I find this extra hilarious because the men in my family are not jewelry-wearers. So…yeah. Hilarious. To me, anyway.