Our Italian customs and traditions are the glue that holds our loud, hungry, happy, loving, and large family together. My great-grandparents, Nana Bucci and Nana Longo, taught my Nani and Papa the traditions and customs that have been passed down from generation to generation. If I could sum up our Italian traditions in a few words, those words would be: Faith, Family, Friends, and Food.

In our family, everything revolves around these four words. We put our Catholic religion first. We make the Sacraments, we go to Church, we pray before every meal and before bed. After our religion, nothing in this world is more important than family. Family is everything. In fact, I don’t have any memories of our families not doing something together. Whether it is a celebration, time for mourning or a random Tuesday, we are always together. We are always there for each other and we always put each other first. We also value our friends; they are the family that we get to pick. Finally, food. All of the aforementioned always involves food and not just regular food, I’m talking about full-fledge Italian deliciousness that can feed an army. Speaking of feeding an army, that’s how we do food; even if three people are coming over, we cook for an army.

Faith, Family, Friends, and Food are the backbone to all our traditions, however the traditions that are supported by that backbone are really the garlic and extra virgin olive oil to our family. Some of the highlights of our year are when we celebrate La Befana on the Eve of the Epiphany in January, Saint Joseph’s Day in March, Ferragosto (The Assumption) in August, All Saint’s Day in November, and the Feast of the Seven Fishes in December. As an Italian family, we have an entire year of celebrating the various traditions that have been passed down from the generations before us. These are traditions we continue to pass down because it makes us who we are. We take part in these traditions as a family, with our friends and usually by enjoying food. As you can tell, most of these are religious, faith-based celebrations.

One of my favorite things about our family is the way myself, my siblings and my cousins were raised. Although we grew up in the U.S., we grew up learning, appreciating and living our rich Italian culture and traditions. This is one of the most important things about our family. As the world continues to change, our family still teaches us about our culture, who we are, where we came from, and why we celebrate. As the next generation is making its way into our family, we will continue to educate our children on these topics. There is nothing better than an Italian family and it is our duty to teach what an Italian family is to our children, so that one day they can teach theirs.

My Papa, Pasquale Buccilli of the Musical Gigolo’s, used to say, “There is something about Italians that makes us different, we are joyful people.” I believe that is, in part, to the various traditions and celebrations we take part in, but I also believe it’s because of the love we share through our Faith, Family, Friends, and Food.