My Family's Cultural Heritage

Essay details

Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.

Throughout history, cultures have been developing more and more into what they are today. America became a melting pot for all of these cultures where they continue to grow and change. Cultural heritage is different for everyone as we all come from a different family with many different backgrounds and traditions. Cultural heritage is defined as “an expression of the ways of living developed by a community and passed on from generation to generation, including customs, practices, places, objects, artistic expressions and values.” My mother’s side of the family comes from Abruzzo, Italy which is just east of Rome, the country’s capital. My great great grandfather came to America on the boat Taormina in 1923. He brought over all the traditions and way of life that my ancestors before him followed. To this day we still carry on the same traditions and customs the way my family would have liked.

Essay due? We'll write it for you!

Any subject

Min. 3-hour delivery

Pay if satisfied

Get your price

My mother is 50% Italian-American, making me 25%. Her mother, my grandmother, was 100% Italian and was the biggest influence on our lives from the food we eat to the traditions we continue to celebrate each and every day. My grandfather was French and Irish but upon marrying my grandmother, he soon became Italian by association. He also followed the traditions and customs of my grandmother’s Italian family and chose to raise my mom likewise.

My family still follows the same traditions and beliefs as my ancestors from generations ago. Since my mother’s side of the family is Italian-American, I went home to talk to my mom, my aunts and uncles and all of my mom’s cousins who still keep the family traditions going. While interviewing with them, we came across all of our old pictures, documents and family recipes that we still use to this day. We still follow some of the same traditions and way of life because it is passed down through my family and it’s a special way to remember our family members that have passed away. My mom and I always bake pizzelles, cannolis and angel wings around the holidays with my great grandmother’s favorite recipes because not only is it delicious, but it is a significant part in my family that connects us to my great grandmother who is no longer alive to make it. She would be very happy knowing that her recipes are being put to good use and still alive in the family.

My great great grandmother went to church on a regular basis. She strongly believed in going to church and raised her kids to be that way too. My great great grandmother influenced us to practice Catholicism in our daily lives. My family is Roman Catholic and we attend church every Sunday with the whole family. The older generation of my family went to church everyday but today, Sundays are devoted to morning mass. Since religion is important to us, my brother and I both were baptised months after we were born, we both made our first communion and both were confirmed. After I made my first communion my mother gave me my very own rosary beads passed down from my great grandmother. My great grandmother was not alive when I was born but my middle name was given to me after her first name which carries apart of her with me throughout my life. My ancestors would carry their rosary beads with them everywhere they go, however, my brother and I keep them on our dresser somewhere accessible so we can pray before we go to bed. The rosary beads signified prayer and meditation and were used to help us count how many Hail Marys we have done. As part of our religion, we pray before every meal, pray before bed and pray when we hear bad news. We pray for our family, neighbors and friends when hardship has risen or problems have occurred. Praying was always something my family valued. We prayed for love, for family, for health and for success and we live by that each and everyday.

Growing up in an Italian-American family made an influence on the food we eat everyday. My grandpa strongly believed in homemade pasta and homemade sauce. Everything he made was from scratch and not from the box or jar. At every family gathering or celebration, he and my great grandma would make homemade stuffed shells with fresh ricotta cheese and homemade meat sauce. At every holiday celebration, my family would make an abundance of food, typically margherita pizza with fresh mozzarella and basil, and different types of pastas. These special occasions called for meals after meals and you never left until you were full. Growing up in a big family, there were always lots of people at our gatherings which meant there was always plenty of food to go around.

As with most holiday eves, the Italians, following Roman Catholic traditions, abstain from eating meat on a holiday eve. The menu for an Italian holiday eve usually consists of several types of fish. In our family, we have followed this tradition for decades maybe even centuries. Everyone in the family would bring a fish dish to the home of the relative hosting. As part of our cultural heritage, the whole family is expected to be there. On Christmas Eve, there were 7 fish dishes prepared for the family. Sometimes there were more than 7, but the theory was 7 fishes for the 7 days of creation. Coincidentally, there are 7 sacraments and the 7 deadly sins as well that contribute to the 7 fish theory. The feast of the 7 fishes were an annual traditional that has a lot of meaning to my family. If this tradition were to just stop it would break up the family and we wouldn’t have that valuable time to connect with our family members around the holidays. According to The Origin of the Feast of the Seven Fishes, “Flash forward to the early 1900s, when the official 'Feast of the Seven Fishes' first emerged. Italian-American families rekindled the Old Country's Christmas Eve tradition by preparing a seven-course seafood meal that both made them feel close to their homes, while celebrating the sea, a major connection in Italy. Today, it's considered one of the oldest Italian traditions” This tradition traces back over a century and continues to be a popular part of the Italian culture today. My family, as well as many others still enjoy this significant part of Christmas Eve.

Being in the presence of my family, it has always been known to me how important greetings are. As Italian-Americans, when we greet people we kiss the person we are greeting on each cheek. We make sure that we greet everyone individually and never excluding anyone. If we do not know someone in the room, we are still required to go up to them but in a more genuine way. A hug on both sides with the exception of the kiss is ideal for the people we have never met before. The source, The Etiquettes of the Kiss in Italy explains “In Italy it is a common practice to greet someone with a light kiss on both their cheeks. This holds true even if you are just newly acquainted or if you have known someone for quite a long time. At an Italian social event you can just imagine that half the time is spent kissing people hello and the rest of the time kissing everyone goodbye!” At such a young age it was hard to understand the meaning of greeting everyone even if we didn’t actually know the person. After plenty of observational learning opportunities, I started greeting people in the same way my grandparents had. Going up to someone, regardless if you know them or not, shows respect and good morals. My family urges me to greet everyone in the room because it builds relationships and make them stronger and more connected.

The most important aspect to my cultural heritage is the family bonding opportunities we have. In my family, we are beyond thankful for all of the times we get to spend together. As I talked with my mother and her cousins, they had told me how family oriented they are. They also mentioned that they welcome in everyone whether that be neighbors or close friends and make them feel like they are apart of the family too. We carry that good heart with us today in my immediate family. We welcomed in my grandma to our house when she was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. Several other times we had opened our doors to help out neighbors and friends who were going through divorces, deaths and work complications. It has always been a crucial part in our family to always support and be there to comfort our loved ones so they never have to go through anything alone. Family is definitely first because those are the people that will always be there for you no matter the circumstances.

Although my family still follows the same traditions as our ancestors, it made it difficult to get the most accurate information due to the fact that my grandparents and my mother’s grandparents are no longer with us to tell their experiences. My mother, along with her cousins and siblings shared with me what they have remembered and grew up with from when they were younger. Most of my mother’s side of the family had passed away before I was born so I greatly relied on my mom to help explain to me the traditions and customs she has experienced as an Italian-American. First hand experience is always the most impactful, although, some traditions may have been tweaked a bit from generation to generation. Back in the day, my ancestors would go to midnight mass on Christmas Eve as part of their religion and their traditions. Today, there is no midnight mass and we attend night mass but a lot earlier. Each generation is very similar with a few minor changes from time to time which shapes our cultural understandings of the way we live today.

Get quality help now

Professor Jared

Verified writer

Proficient in: World Cultures, Race and Ethnicity

4.9 (378 reviews)
“My paper was finished early, there were no issues with the requirements that were put in place. Overall great paper and will probably order another one.”

+75 relevant experts are online

More Cultural Heritage Related Essays

banner clock
Clock is ticking and inspiration doesn't come?
We`ll do boring work for you. No plagiarism guarantee. Deadline from 3 hours.

We use cookies to offer you the best experience. By continuing, we’ll assume you agree with our Cookies policy.