Italian American Christmas tradition

Text:Every christmas eve the informant goes to this italian restaurant called Maggianos and then goes to look at christmas lights. Every christmas morning before they would open presents they would eat breakfast, caramel pull apart rolls, biscuits and gravy, fruit salad, and orange juice. Then they all go to Olympia (He lives in Seattle) and sees his step dad’s family.

Context: The informant is religiously Jewish but his mom is Christian so they celebrate Christmas as a family with his moms side of the family, since his parents are divorced. It holds no religious significance to him though he said he loosely knows the story of Jesus. He enjoys gift giving and it’s very important to his mom who is religious. His mom is 100% Italian American but she briefly converted to Judaism while his parents were married and has since returned to Catholicism. This tradition started a couple years after the divorce happened when he was around 10. 

Analysis: These practices highlight the adaptability of holiday customs to accommodate personal beliefs and family histories. Although Christmas holds no religious significance for the informant, the holiday is embraced as a valuable time for family bonding and gift-giving, which are significant to his mother’s Christian beliefs. This blend of traditions: Italian American, Jewish, and Christian illustrates the complex ways in which individuals and families negotiate their identities and cultural legacies through shared celebrations. The food made by the mother, which isn’t Italian cuisine, shows the cultural assimilation that has happened in the family, adopting things they like form the environment around them. He still feels very strongly about celebrating it even though there is no religious meaning to him. It shows how holidays do a lot more for cultures than honoring a religion, they help meet vital psychological effects for those that participate in these cultural practices by providing a sense of belonging and community.