I take great pride in my family's Italian heritage. A tradition of hard work, close-knit family values, loud dinner table talks, and a sense of community are qualities that unite us. The role of stories as a force to bring people together is another aspect of my family tradition that I adore. In light of our recent family reunion, I decided to write this article reflecting on the importance of family traditions, as I, unfortunately, could not go back home to attend the reunion. Here are just a few of my favorite memories shared with my family. You (definitely) might be Italian if you can relate.
1. Christmas Eve dinner consists of seven fishes
You might be Italian if you celebrate the Feast of the Seven Fishes, complete with calamari, spaghetti with homemade pesto, and tiramisu, with "Dominic the Donkey" as an incessant soundtrack to the entire event.
2. Your Sunday meals look like this
You might be Italian if you always cherished spending entire Sunday afternoons eating homemade meat sauce and pasta that your Nanny and Nonno made for you, and then relaxing to watch TV and talk about anything new in your life.
3. You can't wait for the San Gennaro Feast every year
You might be Italian if you've ever been to the San Gennaro Feast in New York City and enjoyed being around endless sights, sounds, and food.
4. You love the North End
You might be Italian if you love visiting the North End in Boston, MA with your family, specifically heavenly lobster tail pastries from Bova's Bakery or a delicious dish from Taranta. Always go to Bova's. Modern or Mike's are good but slightly overrated.
5. You're always talking. Loudly.
You might be Italian if you find it hard to keep a secret, or if you attract the attention of people from across the room because you're talking so loudly.
6. You celebrate Little Christmas
You might be Italian if, even after December 25th, you keep the Christmas tree up to celebrate Little Christmas (The Epiphany) on January 6th.
7. Your extended family looks like this
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You might be Italian if you search so deeply into your family history that you eventually discover family members you never knew you had.
8. You participate in elaborate Easter baking
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You might be Italian if you find yourself celebrating Easter by filling your kitchen with meat pies, ricotta pies, and braided sweet bread.
9. Your entire family knows all the little things about you
You might be Italian if your entire family (cousins, parents, aunts, uncles) knows about small details of your life and is always willing to support you.
10. You think Olive Garden is fake Italian
You might be Italian if you firmly believe with your entire heart and soul that Olive Garden is fake Italian and you absolutely cannot trust a person who thinks otherwise.
11. You love the Opera
You might be Italian if your family has a deep love for opera and if you fondly remember taking drives to get an espresso on Sunday afternoons with your Nonno, listening to opera on the car rides there.
So, there you have it. Among all of the things that change in the world, family is a constant, and it stretches across decades and even centuries if you look deep enough. As my uncle would say, your definitions of family can vary: family doesn't have to be confined to blood or DNA. It's about who you love and who you can always count on to support you, and sometimes, that's all that matters.