Italian families believe in a lot of superstitions. Mine is no exception. My Aunt won’t cross the path of a black cat. My mother knocks wood, and my grandmother, well, I don’t have enough room on this blog to list all of the superstitions she practices.
My favorite crazy superstitious, voo doo magic of the Italians is “Passing the Eyes.” No, you don’t have to take out your eyes and pass them around and no, my writer’s mind is not making up another fantasy story. There’s an Italian word for Passing the Eyes, but I can’t spell it since I butcher it when I say it. My grandfather always laughed when I spoke Italian. But in a loving way, of course.
Here’s how Passing the Eyes works: You don’t feel well, maybe you have a headache or a shooting pain up your arm, or a fever that won’t go away. You’ve tried Advil, Tylenol, alcohol and nothing works. You can call my grandmother and tell her how you feel and she’ll pass the eyes for you. She says something, we think it’s some kind of prayer, to herself in Italian and she can tell you if you’ve been overlooked. That means a man or a woman or both (she can tell you which) has paid you a compliment they didn’t mean. These terrible people have “overlooked” you and Grandmother can take that curse away.
Almost instantly, you’ll feel better. Yes, it works. I’ve seen it in action. My family has a favorite story they share so I’ll tell you. When my cousin was a toddler he had a fever that wouldn’t break no matter what my Aunt did. So, my grandmother and her sister decided they would team up and pass the eyes for my cousin. They didn’t tell a sole what they were up to. Just two Italian ladies and their secret code. After they were done, they called my Aunt asking how my cousin was doing and guess what? Did you guess? The fever was gone! It really happened. I’ve seen my grandmother remove headaches, neck pain, general not feeling well. It’s amazing actually. My Jewish husband thinks we’re all nuts, but hey, we are.
My grandmother’s sister has since passed. In fact, all of my grandmother’s sisters are gone. She’s the only one left who knows how to pass the eyes. And she won’t tell anyone how to do it. They only time she can share her secret is on Christmas Eve. Every year we ask her to tell us. Tell someone so the magic can continue on after her. She’ll have no part of it. That crazy tight-wearing woman is going to take her secret to her grave.
Not anymore. Thanks to modern technology, my mother has discovered a website that will share with the world the secret to passing the eyes. No longer will we live in the dark. On Christmas Eve, at midnight, all will be revealed. The magic will continue. We can save ourselves from the false complimenting people of the world. Knock wood and as long as no black cats are involved.