Tradition – Italian-American

Italian-American Tradition

Tradition: Although both sets of grandparents passed away while I was quite young, there are still a few traditions that I can remember.   A big family tradition was Sunday Church and dinner.  First we would go to our weekly Sunday Church service. Then it was on to a huge meal and usually the only meal of the day and was served around 1:00 pm.  Most of the family attended.  The women in the family gathered in the kitchen to help prepare the meal.  The meal began with an assortment of appetizers or “antipasto” – roasted peppers, olives, pepperoni, cheeses, ham, fresh bread and butter.   It was followed by a salad made of fresh lettuces, plum tomatoes, chick peas, red onion, and plenty of the best olive oil.  The main meal was, of course, spaghetti with meatballs, sausage and braccioli, (rolled and stuffed pork).  The sauce took hours to make because the secret of it was to slow cook it with all the meat added to it.  (I try and attempt the recipe later on).  The main course was not the end.  Desserts – pies, cookies, pastries, and baskets of fresh fruit and nuts (complete with nutcrackers) were set on the table and coffee was served.  The meal seemed lasted all day.  While the adults gathered around an extended table conversing, joking and laughing, the children were all gathered around a smaller table.  The idea was when you grew up, you could sit at the adult table too!  Older cousins had already made it to that table.

Performer’s Analysis: Back in the Northeast for Italian Americans, Sunday Church and dinner were very common. My husband Lou would even have a 7 course meal on Sundays! These dinners were hosted usually by 1st generation Italians, and as the family spread out, this tradition became more sparse.

Collector’s Analysis: This Italian-American tradition, which seems to be slowly dying as families disperse throughout the country, was common in the Northeast with large Italia-American families demonstrates tradition kept from Italy and even broader in Europe. Its important to note as well that weekly Sunday church and dinner fall under tradition rather than heritage because it is a mode of activity passed down from generation. Michele’s tradition does have some variation to it as well; her husband Lou used to eat a larger, 7-course meal on Sundays. Depending on where in Italy you are from, the meal is different and more or less expansive. In general, the farther north in Italy, the classier the meal.