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Over the years we’ve met folks with amazing stories about their own experiences with mal’occhio. And so in 2012 we wanted to hear from you…

On the 13th day of every month in 2012 Redhead Productions awarded a DVD copy of MAL’OCCHIO for the most original, intriguing Mal'occhio story received.

Congratulations to all the winners! You can read their winning entries below.

DECEMBER 13, 2012 WINNER - Eufemia Fantetti (Toronto, ON, Canada)

In 1968, my father left Canada and returned to Italy for three months. Visiting his village home, his fate was sealed; a Molotov-cocktail-marriage to my mother was arranged. They were total strangers to each other, even though they were second cousins through a previous generation’s marriage. Perhaps the only thing my parents had in common was their DNA. Maybe if I researched my family tree, I’d find out I was related to myself many different ways: Madonna, how Mormon.

The next year was Woodstock; the summer of love passed and my mother was pregnant with me. The stork paid a visit, dropping a pink bundle of joy. At six-months-old, a little Italian lady pierced my earlobes with a pin, so everyone would know I was a girl and I could start proudly displaying my dowry.

Shortly afterwards, when I was crying non-stop, no one connected it to the safety-pin stabbing. Surely, someone had stolen my infant serenity with a stare, an intense gaze. My aunt was summoned, a ceremony was performed, images of patron saints were pinned to my cotton pajamas, and the evil eye was vanquished.

I stopped bawling and slept through the night.

NOVEMBER 13, 2012 WINNER - John G. Fainella (Pickering, ON, Canada)

After landing in Rome, Pierre was terrified that he was now driving on the steep, winding roads of the Apennini, without the special precipice-insurance he once relied on.

He had suddenly decided to look for long-lost Pina and Lucia, born in the nineteen-fifties, like him. After reading Gabriella Parca’s Italian Women Confess, he had confirmed that Italian women then, had not been the best adjusted, nor the best treated in Europe.

After the marauding adolescents had attacked the girls in the blackberry grove, they had feared they would be blamed and their reputation ruined. Pierre, a bystander, had sworn secrecy.

Shortly afterwards, Pierre had moved to Canada forever.

After all these years, who knows what had become of them? The girls might have consecrated their lives to the church. They might have families. Perhaps everyone knew about them, now.

An old stornello warned him: “Le male lingue di questo contorno, dicono male pure del padre eterno, figurate di noi cosa diranno!” (The evil tongues of this little town / speak badly even of the Eternal Father / Imagine what of us they will be saying.)In those days, everyone wore an amulet, a red horn, or a scapular to guard against the mal’occhio brought by gossip. Except for communists. But they were wrong: it was a dangerous force.

The sporty, narrow handlebars and streamers of his bicycle had encouraged envy. Like Pina’s innocence and Lucia’s beauty.

Riding the gift from his Canadian uncle, with a rusty horseshoe tied to the new handlebars he had felt safe; but cousin Coquette had insisted that “l’occhio vuole la sua parte (The eye wants its share)”, so she had chucked it, and sent Pierre, defenceless, to buy a shiny, red cornetto. Also useful as a jaw-breaking substitute for his bubble-gum addiction.

A few, hasty cranks of the pedals on an easy downhill to the store, off the curb and . . .


The front-fender had suddenly collapsed into an accordion, playing its first, last, and loudest note in a fanfare of shiny, green speckles.

OCTOBER 13, 2012 WINNER – Antonia Di Iorio (Montreal, QC, Canada)

I’ve had the opportunity to watch my grandmother cure mal’occhio. It’s both hilarious and fascinating. Although I’ve never suffered from evil eye symptoms myself, people I know and trust swear that they have had it, and that my grandmother was able to cure it. I see no reason not to believe them!

The curing session goes something like this… Nonna uses the traditional olive oil and water method. She fills a bowl with water and then drops a few oil drops into the bowl, all while she whispers her curing prayer. I’ve asked Nonna to recite the curing prayer out loud, but she refuses saying that it's meant to be secret. Her curing prayer lasts a few minutes, and then she begins to examine the oil in the water. And I must admit that I have seen the oil drops spread out and disappear with my own eyes. Within ten minutes Nonna can tell if the person has the evil eye, and if he or she does then she repeats the oil olive and prayer ritual for the actual removal.

Many times the person suffering from mal’occhio is in the room with Nonna. At other times she gets “the phone call.” The phone calls are always the most interesting because Nonna never calls them back after she finishes the cure, but instead waits for them to call her back to let her know that they are feeling better. And according to my Nonna that phone call always comes about twenty minutes or so after the cure is completed!

SEPTEMBER 13, 2012 WINNER - Maria M. (Toronto, ON, Canada)

Not too long ago, my mom found an old journal she wrote in her early twenties. Included were entries about her family, her friends, her boyfriend/fiancé/husband (my dad), and other things on her mind. One entry that probably made us laugh out loud the most was a prayer that her godmother had taught her to ward off the evil eye. One was to repeat it three times, between Our Fathers and Hail Maries. She gave me permission to share it. Enjoy!

Santu Pitruzzu di Roma viniva,
nà ramma d'aliva 'manu portava,
passava all'artaru e a binidiciva,
cacciava l'occhi a cu mali faciva.
Fonu tri chi ti consanu,
fonu tri chi ti scunsanu,
pì lu nomi di Gesù,
supra stu cristianu non c'ha putiri chiù.

AUGUST 13, 2012 WINNER - Laura Di Michele (Vancouver, BC, Canada)

When we were kids my mother would sometimes cure us of mal’occhio. Of course, we didn’t know this at the time. (We would only find out years later at a family dinner!)

On evenings when the family would return home from a family function or social event, my mother would patiently get my sister and I into bed. And as she tucked each of us in she would whisper something under her breath. We never really thought anything of it. Who knows, maybe she was praying or humming a song. Well, it turns out that mom was reciting a mal’occhio curing prayer she had learned from her mom. She made it a habit of doing this on days when we had been complimented and touched by lots of relatives and/or strangers. Dressed in cute matching dresses, and wearing white patent shoes and ribbons in our hair, the compliments – and potential envy – were in abundance. And so mom took the cautious step of ridding us of any impending evil.

As you could imagine, when my mother confessed this practice to us we teased her – and still do relentlessly. But the truth is, it was a very loving motherly thing to do. I’ve made my mother promise to teach me the mal’occhio prayer… But we have to wait until midnight on Christmas Eve!

JULY 13, 2012 WINNER - Antoinette Marie Rinella (Kingsville, MO, USA)

In July of 1969, I was born to some very elated parents and family. My health was very good and there were no complications whatsoever. Upon bringing me home I would nurse without any problems and acted like any typical newborn baby. Except for the fact that I would not sleep. My mom told me that for the first two months of my life I would not sleep for more then a couple of hours at a time. 

My grandmother was a very strict Catholic and Italian to the bone. Her family came from Sicily and my grandfather was from Calabria. My biological father was a bad seed and according to my grandmother "a piece of shit".  She believed that I was born with the mal'occhio because not long after I was born my father was headed off to prison for three years.

My grandmother got in contact with a close family friend telling her that I needed to have the mal'occhio removed. She came over with her tools and began to perform the cure above my infant size head with her wooden bowl. 

According to my mom I fell asleep in her arms while she preformed this clearing of my bad luck and slept for eighteen hours straight. And from that point on I was a very good sleeper, sleeping through the night without any problems.

To carry on the tradition I have learned all aspects of the mal'occhio – curing, cursing, wearing the amulet, and hanging a horn in my vehicle. Without me and other children like me carrying on with these beliefs, they would die with our grandparents.

JUNE 13, 2012 WINNER - John G. Fainella (Pickering, ON, Canada)

“For the love of God, Signora, do something because I dream every night of a parente, disappeared in the war. She tells me that babies will become fish. I saw monsters, men without heads, no arms, and one with the head of a donkey braying loudly and running, chased by the fish. Oh Gesù, Madama Badessa, I implore you. I cannot sleep anymore. At night I hear noises under the roof! My husband says it’s the rats, but I don’t believe him. It’s the malocchio and the evil spirits that come to pull at my feet because…”

“Signora, please, you are frightening my boy. He always has headaches and takes too many pills. May we go ahead of you, or if not, we will come back later?”

Giovà clung with visible apprehension, closer to his mother who had interrupted the big-belly woman.

“Alright, signora, go ahead. You already have such a beautiful son. What luck you have. Myself? Who can tell?”

The Madama took him by one hand and moved him closer to her. She was ageless, short, round, and smelled like bread, olive oil and sweat. She wore a simple dress, an apron, and a scarf. She held a rosary in her hand and was warm and reassuring; her deep, black eyes captivating the boy’s attention. Never taking her eyes off him, she began the incantation and moved the rosary lightly around his head and shoulders. Her hands on his head, she then looked up and droned Ave Maria’s and Pater Noster’s like a swarm of bees. She squeezed Giovà’s head harder, and lifted her hands off three times, as if to frighten away wasps. In a loud voice, she commanded the headache spirits three times to leave the child. She then closed her eyes relaxed, smiled, caressed Giovàs face, and said, “Ora vai ‘a mamma. Vedrai che starai bene.

Giovà’s mother got up to pay the strolleca, and thanked her. Madama nodded and thanked her in return, as she put the coins in her apron pocket without counting them. The big-bellied woman also accepted her thanks. She watched them leave the room and she began again…

“I am not a wishful woman, so I am not worried about birthmarks for coveting wine or chocolate. Oh no! It’s dreams that scare me to death…”

The Strolleca had cured Giovà’s headache. His mother did not even ask. She knew this to be the case. She slowed down going downstairs to eavesdrop as long as she could until well into the street, where fish, donkeys, children, and big-bellied woman would all blend into the distant memories of war.

(adapted from Mr Fainella’s novel, The Strawberry in the Chrysanthemums)

MAY 13, 2012 WINNER - Rosetta Rosati (Siziano, PV, Italy)

Nonna, I will be coming to visit you next week, I can hardly wait to see you”.

Emanuela Jennifer smiled as she savored the joy of the short vacation she would spend at the seaside, on the Ionian Sea. Her grandmother lived there and had welcomed her on many summer vacations. As a recent university graduate looking forward to start her first job in Milan, Emanuela wished to share with her grandmother the joy of her success. She also knew that something very special was going to happen during this visit: a promise that nonna had made to her. It was time. How simple, yet intriguing, spending days with her nonna. Emanuela loved watching her. How elegant and regal her movements were. Her weak legs moved slowly, but she had stubbornly rejected using a cane.

Two comfortable chairs stood on the balcony overlooking the sea. The moon, extremely large, was illuminating the Calabrian sea.

Tesoro, vien’ acca.”

Her grandmother had always addressed her this way. She was her “jewel”.

“E ’giunta l’ora. Oggi t’insegno la preghiera contru u malocchiu, perchè ci sugnu genti che ti portunu invidia. Prometti, la devi tramandare ai figghi dei figghi toi.”

They embraced warmly, while the moon sealed their promise. 

APRIL 13, 2012 WINNER - Emmy Colantonio (Bolton, ON, Canada)

I was 11 years old and my little 18-month old brother was very sick. He was crying, had a high fever, and just was not the same happy rambunctious child he normally was. My mom gave him medication, bathed him in tepid water, but nothing worked. After a while, he just lay there, motionless, almost lifeless. My father was very upset. A Calabrese, he truly believed this was mal’occhio. My mom who is Abruzzese was not accustomed to this “mal’occhio thing” and told my father to stop being stupid.

We were at my comara’s house the night before and a guest in her home had made a comment about my brother and kept staring at him. She gave him mal’occhio - my dad was certain of this. My dad called the comara so she could call her mother, an old blind woman who had the power to take away this curse. She was chanting on her end and she said we each had to drink water, say a phrase and throw the water down the sink. This mal’occhio was VERY bad. My father did it. He showed my younger brother and I what to do. Then it was my mom’s turn. She thought this was nuts! She did it, but haphazardly. The comara was still on the phone and my dad heard the chanting stop in the background. My baby brother still lay there motionless. The old woman said there was a non-believer in our house. We had to do it again and believe, and if we didn’t the little one would pass away before midnight. WHAT! It was 11:30 pm!

My father looked at my mom and said, “I swear if anything happens to him, it's on you!” Well, my mother converted pretty quick! She went first, she cried as she chanted the phrase and drank the water and threw the rest down the sink. My brother and I followed. My dad last. I remember looking at the clock. Every tick tock was frightening. At 11:45 pm, my little brother sat up and declared that he wanted pasta. He was hungry! I remember the cheering in the house was the same as when Italy won the World Cup in 1982! Needless to say, the pasta and sugo was on the stove in a heartbeat. Mal’occhio, ya I believe!

MARCH 13, 2012 WINNER - Christina Visconti (Markham, ON, Canada) 

For as long as I can remember, mal’occhio has existed. As a child, anytime I complained about a headache or stomachache, my mom immediately grabbed a bowl of water, oil and a knife to cure my pains. As soon as she finished, Nonna came along to repeat the process. And of course, it worked. My sister and I used to joke, calling it “Nonna witchcraft,” but to this day we still believe in mal’occhio. You can tell the difference between a headache Advil can cure and a headache three people with oil and water and a few prayers can cure. When I went to Italy I was determined to buy a corno and get it blessed with the holy water from the Vatican. I wear it almost every day, and when I don’t, I can be sure to have mal’occhio symptoms. Although always accurate, it still freaks me out how mal’occhio and the cure works, but I know that when I have kids and grandkids I will still be practicing the “superstition.”

FEBRUARY 13, 2012 WINNER - Joanne DeMichele (Gila, NM, USA)

From childhood, I would notice my mother doing her oil and water ritual at the kitchen sink. I knew not to disturb her serious work. When my son was born, I was given a pin with three gold charms - a small cross, a heart, and a horn. Mom told me to keep it on him day and night to protect him from the evil eye. I was taught that part of being a good mother was to protect my son from mal’occhio. To avoid accidently giving someone mal’occhio, I was also taught to always say “God bless them” whenever saying anything nice about another person, especially a child. Soon after the birth of my son, my sister Mary and I were summoned into Aunt Betty’s kitchen on Christmas Eve, shortly before midnight. My mother announced that it was time for us to learn how to get rid of mal’occhio. We held back our giggles for the most part while we took notes. We were told to memorize what we wrote and to destroy the notepaper within 24 hours. I still have the note that I keep in a Catholic prayer book that belonged to my maternal Grandmother.

JANUARY 13, 2012 WINNER - Anna Maria Ruvo (London, ON, Canada)

I never used to believe in mal’occhio. About ten years ago my attitude changed. At the time my sister was a star player on her high school track-and-field team. At one tournament she did particularly well. My parents and I were all there to cheer her on as she accepted medal after medal. As one could imagine, she received compliments, hugs and pats on the back from teammates, coaches and competitors alike. At the end of the tournament the family headed home to celebrate. When we got home my sister was complaining of a stomachache and before long was hunched over the toilet. She lay on the sofa exhausted and in pain. I assumed she had eaten something that hasn’t agreed with her. Or perhaps she was just tired after a long weekend? My mom had a different opinion. She called my aunt. And well, you can guess what happened next. In less than an hour’s time my aunt had called back to report on the status of the mal’occhio cure, my sister’s aches had completely disappeared, and everyone – including my sister – sat around the dinner table to enjoy a homemade meal.