This Italian surname of MALETTA is of three-fold origin. It was a name given to a dweller near an apple tree, or an occupational name for one who sold apples. It was also a nickname for someone having bright red cheeks, like an apple. Nicknames usually originated as a by-name for someone by describing their appearance, personal disposition or character but which became handed down through the ages and did not apply to their descendants. The importance in medieval northern Europe of apples, as a fruit which could be grown in a cold climate and would keep for use throughout the winter is hard to appreciate in these days of easy imports. Many of the modern family names throughout Europe reflect the profession or occupation of their forbears in the Middle Ages and derive from the position held by their ancestors in the village, noble household or religious community in which they lived and worked. The addition of their profession to their birth name made it easier to identify individual tradesmen and craftsmen. As generations passed and families moved around, so the original identifying names developed into the corrupted but simpler versions that we recognise today. Despite evidence that hereditary surnames were in use in the Venetian Republic as early as the 10th Century, the origin of many Italian surnames is unclear. There is still a great potential for research into medieval Italian records while documented evidence indicates the adoption of the father's name as a surname is the most common form. The familiar endings of "i" and "o", meaning to be a member of a certain family, bears this out. Social conditions in Southern Italy during the agricultural depression of the late 19th Century spurred the first wave of emigration as thousands of people escaped to the New World. Latin America was the original destination for these early settlers but as the economy strengthened in the United States, North America became more popular. During the 1920's, life in Australia was good, and from Italy there came a huge wave of immigrants, fleeing from poverty in their own country. They grew fruit and vegetables in Victoria, and cut sugar cane in Queensland. Commerce flourished in the cities.
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