film & videos

  food & wine
  italian american

  free email
  link directory

new york
events, links, forum

events, links, forum

events, links, forum

events, links, forum

san francisco
events, links, forum

los angeles
events, links, forum

about us

you can help us!
We're an all volunteer website and need your help to keep going. Here are five ways you can contribute:
1 Donate
2 Buy something
3 Submit a story
4 Volunteer
5 Advertise

get in gear!
New in the gift shop, logo wear and use items!
  PLEASE NOTE: We are experiencing unexpected technical difficulties caused by our web host. We apologize for the inconvenience. During your visit you may experience service and page interruptions - we are in the process of fixing everything and hope to be fully back on our feet soon.

celebrating our italian heritage

By Deborah K. Millemaci
(return to genealogy)

One of the most intriguing aspects of researching Italian genealogy is learning about our customs, traditions, and folklore. From the largest cities to the smallest towns and villages throughout Italy, these celebrations are observed with reverence and passion. The immigrants who embarked on their long journey to America seeking a better life, brought with them these treasured pieces of their past to plant and nurture for their future descendants.

Each town in Italy has its own patron saints, and on their special feast day, celebrations are grand and symbolic. The Festa di San Giuseppe (Feast of St. Joseph - March 19th - Sicily), the Feast of St. Anthony of Padua (June 13th), and Festa di Santa Lucia (December) are only a few that are celebrated. There are also grand regattas (boat races) and events such as the annual carnival (before Lent), especially the one held in Nuoro where participants dress in 18th century costumes. Italy also celebrates food! For example, in the town of Piglio, which is southeast of Lazio, there is an annual grape festival where grapes are "sculpted" to resemble people and objects. I know many of these events are not celebrated here in America, but I just wanted to give you an idea about some of these special observances which are celebrated in Italy.

At an early age I was blessed with wonderful memories of my grandparents. I remember the wondrous preparations for the holidays and feast days. My grandfather was famous in the neighborhood for his homemade Italian sausage, and I would watch him prepare it in the coal furnace in the basement.

Deborina, 5 years old, under Nonna Rosa's kitchen sink
I can still see the small toy kitchen set that was placed under the green porcelain sink upstairs in my grandmother's kitchen so I could help Nonna Rose with her cooking! It was always wonderful to be in her kitchen, as it was the center of our family life. The air was always filled with the most tantalizing sweet smells of breads and cookies - every day was like a holiday in that kitchen.

I also remember a couple of my grandmother's "home remedies" for ailments... Sometimes Nonna would have a headache and the only thing that seemed to help was the placing of three slices of potato on her forehead. A clean white cloth secured them to her forehead and she inisisted this made her headache go away.

In the summer I used to like to play outside, and many times I would stay out in the sun too long. Well, I would come inside with a pretty bad sunburn. Nonna Rose would go to her cupboard and pull out her bottle of cider vinegar and gently put it on the sunburn... I remember it smelled soooooooo awlful and I felt like part of a salad, but it always took the sting out of the burn. There is a reason for all of this.

Customs and traditions - that's what our Italian heritage is all about. Are there special events you celebrated with your family you'd like to know more about? Would you like to learn about Italian folklore, naming traditions, dating customs, festivals, and celebrations? You can become a part of's Italian Customs and Traditions Forum. Post or share special events your family celebrated. In this way you keep your Italian ancestry and heritage alive.

©Deborah K. Millemaci - 2002
No part of this article may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the author.


© 1998-2005 by unless otherwise noted