Gli Spauracchi Posted by Serena on Jan 12, 2011 in Culture
Most of us, when we were children, had our own spauracchi. Often they lived under the bed or down in the cellar. Mine used to hang out in a dark corner of the landing that I had to pass whenever I needed to go to the bathroom during the night.
Every culture has its spauracchi (scary monsters), some are fairly ubiquitous, and others less common. Here are a few that inhabit the Italian peninsular. Let’s begin with those that are known all over the country:
Il Babau è probabilmente lo spauracchio per eccellenza (the ‘Babau’ is probably the number one scary monster). It hasn’t got a defined form or characteristic, but its name recalls the barking of a dog: "bau bau". "Se non smetti di piangere chiamo il Babau" (If you don’t stop crying I’ll call the Babau) it’s a typical sentence that a parent might say to a child.
L’Uomo Nero is a black ghost or a dark hooded menacing figure which takes away naughty disobedient children, especially those who don’t want to go to bed: "Se entro cinque minuti non sei a letto, arriva l’Uomo Nero e ti porta via!" (If you are not in bed in five minutes, l’Uomo Nero will come and take you away!)
Il Lupo Cattivo (the Big Bad Wolf) and l’Orco (the Ogre) both like to eat children. They hide behind doors and in places where children are not meant to go: "Stai attento che lì dentro c’è il Lupo Cattivo!" (Be careful because the Big Bad Wolf is in there!)
There are many regional variations on spauracchi, some of which are used to scare children away from specific dangers such as forests, deep wells, and excessive heat. Here are some of them:
Mazarol, from Belluno (Veneto), is dressed in red, has a long beard, and lives in forests. He kidnaps naughty children by hiding them underneath his long cape.
La Scabodda, from Viareggio (Tuscany), is a sort of witch that takes away Christmas presents from naughty children.
Lu Lauru, from Puglia, is un folletto dispettoso (a mischievous elf) who sits on the chests of sleeping children.
La Manu Longa, also from Puglia, is a clawed hand that grabs children and drags them down into wells.
Sa Mamma ‘e Funtana, from Sardinia, lives in wells and marshes, and kidnaps children that get too close to such dangerous places.
Sa Mamma ‘e su Sole, also from Sardinia, is an old woman who takes away children that stay outside the house in the hottest hours of the day.
If anyone would like to tell us about their own personal, or local spauracchi, please leave a comment below.
Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.