Christmas Raviolis


“At Christmas, we make homemade raviolis. When I was growing up, my grandmother [made homemade raviolis] most of the time, and then when you kids were younger, Nonni (the informant’s mother) did it a number of years, and now we do it.”

Minor Genre: 

Holiday Ritual; Food Traditions


“My dad has a funny story about the first time he had dinner with my mom’s Italian family. In the Italian meals, they would serve raviolis almost as an appetizer. My dad filled up on the raviolis and then there were still like four more courses of dinner to come.

“I never made [the raviolis], I just ate them. My grandmother made them and I didn’t really pitch in as a kid. It wasn’t until Nonni started making them with you kids that I helped. We would have raviolis throughout the year but really the ritual of making them was saved for Christmas.”


I have memories of making raviolis with my grandmother, Nonni, every Christmas growing up. It was a process that involved the whole family: we first made the pasta dough using an old recipe from the informant’s grandmother (my great-grandmother); then we rolled out the pasta into thin strips using a pasta-roller attachment to the kitchen table; then we used ravioli dishes to place the dough, add in the filling, and press the food into ravioli shapes.

Ravioli originated in Italy and is a type of pasta dish containing filling typically composed of meat or cheese. Nonni’s side of the family immigrated from Italy from the regions of Tuscany and Campania. Although the filling of our family’s ravioli is likely an Americanized version of the Italian original, we reference an old hand-written recipe for the pasta that could reasonably be believed to have been brought over by Nonni’s Italian ancestors.

The ritual of making raviolis each Christmas is a way to honor our family’s Italian heritage while simultaneously engaging in a community-building activity that will ultimately be enjoyed by every member of the family at dinner.