The short childhood

In the peasant family it was usual to see 7-8 year-old boys wandering in the fields and helping their parents in the pull-out of the grasses, in the seeding, reaping, threshing and vintaging.

They were boys precociously started up to work and taken away from schools despite the scholastic obligation laws. All of them learned the art of cultivating fields directly from their parents. They often sent their children ‘a bottega’ (to artisans’ shops for learning their trade) to keep them away from the idleness and from the bad companies.

Infact the artisan’s shop was also a place of formation for the boys since it moulded their characters and prepared them in the arts. Being apprentice of an artisan for them meant preparing their own future but also carrying out the humblest jobs.

The youngests found the time for games most of which were manual and group games. They were very simple but strongly formative for the children and important for their creativeness and imagination. The most diffused games among the boys were: the slingshot, the ball, the circle, ‘toccaferro‘, ‘brigands and policemen’, throwing of coins or buttons aloft (‘spacca chiang‘), horse and mare, ‘u’puccl e la stascedd‘…

The girls played instead to the ‘bell’, to the ‘week’, to ‘the five little stones’, to the ‘girotondo‘ and different sung games.

The toys up to the ’60 were constituted by common objects realized with poor materials but rich of inventiveness and imagination.

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The short childhood12