Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Curious Custom of Kissing

My wonderful husband Michael Volkov,
who presents himself in Sicily with the pseudonym
Michele Sciacca aka" "the other Michele Sciacca!"
My husband's first memory of Sicily was meeting some 60 or more relatives for dinner and kissing them on both cheeks in greeting and again on both cheeks to say good bye. As I recall there were a few kisses of appreciation during the meal as well.  If my calculations are correct that would be 240 kisses--at least--in just one event!  And there could be several of these events in one day. That's a lot of kisses, and my husband, who is a passionate Russian American, loved it and was up to the task!

In Sicily, esteem for another person, even in a more formal setting such as business, is demonstrated through outward gestures of affection. People greet one another with a kiss on each cheek and they are comfortable expressing verbally their affection for another. It it common for family and friends to express their love for one another by saying, “Ti voglio bene,”  literally, “I wish you well”.  When a person is taken into the Sicilian inner circle, he or she becomes as family. For Sicilians this is the highest demonstration of love, respect and esteem.
With Zia Dora
I have heard that these customs are remnants of the highly ritualized court life of the Norman, Aragon and Bourbon kings of Sicily or of the courts of the Emirs during the Saracen period. I personally believe that they have something to do with being a island culture who, throughout history, was forced to submit to invading countries and people. 

With cousin Michele (the other Michele Sciacca!)
 There is a strong sense of place in Sicily. The proverbial scirocco winds may blow, but the people remain as strong and unaffected as the ancient secolari olive trees that dot the countryside. Because of their intelligence and creativity, Siclians adapt readily to a changing world, however their essence does not fundamentally change. This dichotomy has served them by protecting the steady core that has allowed them to weather millenia of change while remaining true to who they are.

With our beloved late uncle Zio Matteo.

Those who are fortunate enough to glimpse that inner circle and have a place in hearts of a Sicilian family, know that the demonstrations of affection are endless and the friendships are eternal. Sicilians are among the warmest people in the world.  To outsiders they appear open and fun-loving, but they are in fact, a very private people. To be invited into their inner circle is a rare privilege. 

While we are on the subject of affection and love, allow me to say to my wonderful husband, "Ti voglio bene," and to express to him congratulations and "auguri" on behalf of the entire family for his
newly published book, Corruption, Crime and Compliance, which as I write, is number 2 on the Amazon bestseller list in International Law!   Auguri Amore Mio!

"Michael Volkov, primary author of the blog called Corruption, Crime & Compliance, has published a book by the same name. It collects some of his best writing -- which means it's full of common sense for lawyers and laypersons. Staying calm and practical are what Volkov is all about. (One of his favorite quotes is, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows” — from Bob Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues).

Volkov brings to his compliance practice and writing plenty of experience -- 30 years as an attorney in Washington, D.C. − as a federal prosecutor, a Chief Counsel on the Senate and House Judiciary Committees, a trial attorney in the Antitrust Division, and now in private practice.

His mentor and friend, Judge Stanley Sporkin, the 'father of the FCPA,' wrote the foreword. He said: Michael Volkov’s book is a compilation of articles on a number of subjects important to advising clients how to stay out of trouble. He is a prolific writer and I can say without question, we have not heard the last of his musings.

Simply put, his book contains important information that should prove helpful to lawyers, particularly to those who practice in the white collar field.  Michael Volkov's Corruption, Crime and Compliance is available from Amazon here."

Ciao a presto!

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