Our land has a lot of people’s customs and traditions, they were passed down from our grandparents and they are still widespread in Tuscany farm houses. The farming life was a simple and modest life that was marked by the passing of the seasons: the grapes’ harvest in September, the olives’ harvest in Autumn, the wheat’s harvest in Summer; every event, remembered by our grandparents with great emotion, was not only work but also an opportunity to stay with family and friends all together enjoying simple meals in the fields. Panzanella, drunk pork, bread with wine and sugar: these were some of the most famous recipes. The most common traditions were related to other specific situations belonging to daily life. For example, we can mention granny’s natural treatments against sniffle or flu like infusions or medicinal herbs.
One of the most curious treatments was about a natural herb to cure an odd disease of children: the fear. Our grandma Maria is an expert seeker of this herb and she believes in its healthy characteristics.
The herb to fight the fear
Siderite (Stachys recta) is a plant well-known as “Erba della paura – Herb against fear”. It was picked up in bundles by grandma Maria in the fields of Santa Margherita and it was plunged into hot water and then was used for washing away fears from children. Usually the grandma bathed us from the head to feet using this special liquid and at the same time she declaimed:
In the name of Jesus and Mary
the fear sends away.
In the name of Jesus and Saint Peter
the fear turns away.
The washing had to be repeated for three consecutive days except for Tuesday and Friday (in italian language they are called Martedì and Venerdì and they are the only days with letter r) and at the end we felt more relaxed and peaceful. This was usually confirmed by the fact that the water was clear, without the ‘lamp of fear’ of the first day.
There were not scientific evidences but it was only a way for instilling courage to children and for helping them to believe that fear was easy to push away, but the secret to good success was that even grandmothers really believed it. This old belief belongs to our old memories that made, and still do, our territory so interesting and suggestive.