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New York Folklore Quarterly, Vol. XXIII, No. 1, March 1967

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NEW YORK FOLKLORE QUARTERLY
Vol. XXIII, March 1967

IL PAISANO —
IMMIGRANT ITALIAN FOLKTALES OF CENTRAL NEW YORK
Rosemary Agonito

THE FOLLOWING folktales were collected among Italian immigrants who took up residence in the Syracuse area, principally in the decades around the turn of the century although others have arrived since the quota restrictions of the twenties. This closely-knit band of settlers originated in the isolated medieval village of Guardiaregia, Province of Compobasso, high in the Abruzzi Mountains of south-central Italy.

The striking quality of these immigrants is their strong attachment to each other, best expressed in the term paisano, for which there is no satisfactory English equivalent. This bond between the villagers, almost as important as a blood relationship, has been instrumental in transferring and preserving much of their folklore in the New World.

Together with their meager belongings, the paisanos carted across thousands of miles their customs, beliefs, tales, and folk cookery. Although they have improved their economic lot considerably since their emigration and take great pride in their American citizenship, this group has clung to its traditions with a tenacity that has often resulted in the establishment of a microscopic Italy within their immediate community. In order to provide a better understanding of the background of these people, I have included a brief description of life in the village of Guardiaregia that is based on my observations during a visit there in the summer of 1964....





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