Photos from “An Evening in Sicily.
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This year’s celebration will begin Sunday, December 10th at 3:00PM with the lighting of the Christmas fire, a candlelight procession to the altar of St Lucy, followed by a prayer service for those who have departed in 2017.
Ragazzi Italian Folk Dancers will perform 2 Christmas dances. Traditional “cuccia” will be served.
Open to the public, free of charge.
Buon giorno e ciao a tutti!
Good morning and hi to everyone!
The month of October may be gone, but we still have our fundraising dinner, An Evening in Sicily, on November 9th that will conclude our Heritage Month.
During this past week a few of our board members taught a Limoncello class and I can tell you that it was a huge success.
As we begin to prepare for our American holiday of Thanksgiving the Italians (who don’t have this festivity) are organizing something more regional and relating to the different areas of Italy; these are what is commonly known as the Sagre di paese. A Sagra di paese is a popular festival that generally occurs at a time between the end of September to the middle/end of November and is a festivity celebrating the harvest of local produce that includes wine, olives, vegetables, meats, cheeses and much more. Many times, this is accompanied with a fair and market which can last for days. People gather together as family and friends to participate in these Sagras. In many instances this also coincides with the Patron Saint festival of the town, which adds a religious aspect to this celebration.
Initially, even the United States and Canada celebrated a regional form of Thanksgiving beginning in 1621 that varied in dates from September to December. Modern Thanksgiving in the U.S. was officially proclaimed in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln as the final Thursday in November in an attempt to create a sense of unity between the Northern and Southern states. However, some states were reluctant to recognize this and a nationwide date was not realized until the Reconstruction was completed in the 1870s. On December 26, 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a joint resolution changing the date of Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday of November hoping that this earlier date would provide the country with an economic boost.
In any case, I am happy that in the world (no matter whether one is in a small town in Italy or a huge U.S. metropolis) we can find a time to unite with family and friends and celebrate nature’s bounty and can offer thanks.
Auguro a tutti Voi un Felice Giorno del Ringraziamento
I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving
Paolo Bartesaghi, President
We love filling out this BIG check!!
2017 Festival donations surpassed $5,600 for the Food Bank of Iowa.
Thank you everyone for helping us support this fine organization.
Rose Russo and Nancy Danca were presented the Outstanding Citizen Award at this year’s Columbus Day Dinner for their ‘above and beyond’ contributions to the Italian-American community.
Thank you, ladies, for your continued service.
July 28th & 29th 2017
Western Gateway Park
This traditional Easter bread is topped with colored raw eggs, which cook as the bread bakes. It makes for a pretty centerpiece.
2-3/4 to 3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup 2% milk
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 cup chopped mixed candied fruit
1/4 cup chopped blanched almonds
1/2 teaspoon aniseed
5 uncooked eggs, dyed
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons 2% milk
Decorator candies, optional
In a large bowl, combine 1 cup flour, sugar, yeast and salt. In a large saucepan, heat milk and 2 tablespoons butter to 120°-130°. Add dry ingredients; beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs; mix well. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down; turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in fruit, almonds and aniseed until blended. Let rest for 10 minutes. Divide dough in half. Shape each portion into a 24-in. rope. Loosely twist ropes together; place on a greased baking sheet and form into a ring. Pinch ends together. Melt remaining butter; brush over dough. Gently separate ropes and tuck dyed eggs into openings. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 40 minutes.
Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. For glaze, in a bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and enough milk to achieve desired consistency; drizzle over bread. Sprinkle with candies if desired. Yield: 1 loaf (20 slices).
Doors open at 5:30 PM on Saturday, March 18th with the blessing of the altar at 6:00 PM. Following the blessing, the children will present the “tupa tupa” (knocking) pageant. A traditional Lenten meal will be served family style after the blessing.
Altar visitations will continue on Sunday, March 19th, the feast of St. Joseph, patron of families and laborers. Visitation will begin at 9:00 AM. Refreshments will be provided during the day. This year’s celebration will conclude with the incineration of petitions at 4:00 PM.
Both days are open to the public free of charge. A free-will offering will be accepted. All attending either of the celebrations will be given a gift bag containing a St. Joseph prayer card, St. Joseph medal, blessed bread and the traditional “lucky” fava bean. All proceeds, as well as the fruits, vegetables, breads, pastries and financial contributions will be distributed to the St. Joseph Shelter, the Bidwell Center and the Catholic Worker House.
Family Altar Sponsorship Requests
The St. Joseph Altar Celebration is comprised of a main altar and additional family-sponsored side altars. Families who would like to sponsor an altar provide items which represent their family such as statues, linens, family pictures, etc. They have the option of decorating their altar themselves or providing the items for the committee to decorate their altars for them. The committee provides flowers and other traditional items to each of the altars. to request a family altar or for additional information, please feel free to call the chairperson at 244-4672 or 250-8804.
Several days are required for the baking of the traditional St. Joseph cookies and breads. Those who would like to come and learn the preparation of new kinds of sweets are invited to attend one of several baking sessions. There is a wide variety of cookies that are made. Volunteers will also be making several pounds of fresh pasta that will be served at both the dinner and the luncheon.
Baking will run March 8th, 9th, 10th,13th,14th,15th,16th and 17th at 9:00 am each day.
For more information about baking for the celebration, please call the chairperson at 244-4672 or 250-8804.
From the country that gave us Romeo and Juliet, famous novels like “I Promessi Sposi”, and romantic gondola rides, there’s no doubt that Italy is THE country for lovers. Even the Italian language, which is so expressive and precise in thought and emotion, is considered one of the most romantic and beautiful of all languages. So how do Italians celebrate Saint Valentine’s Day? Logic would say that Valentine’s Day is a huge celebration, right? Italy does take its celebrations seriously, but current-day celebrations are not as extensive as you would think. Let’s look at the history of Saint Valentine’s Day, or “La Festa Degli Innamorati” in Italy:
Ancient Traditions The origins of Valentine’s Day lie in ancient Pagan fertility day celebrations. In 494 AD, Pope Gelasio I declared a Valentine Day celebration in honor of Saint Valentine to replace the Pagan festival, and the original Saint Valentine’s festivities were celebrated as a spring festival where lovers would gather outside in gardens or parks to listen to music and exchange poetry. One ancient tradition is for an unmarried girl to wake up early and stand by her window. Legend has it that the first man she sees that day will marry her within a year.
Today’s Traditions Present-day Valentine’s celebrations are more commercialized than in centuries past, and many Italians consider it an American import. On this day, the exchange of gifts is usually only between lovers. Usually a couple will go out to dinner, or prepare a nice candlelit dinner at home. A popular gift is the Baci Perugina chocolate-covered hazelnut with a romantic poetic quote in 4 different languages hidden inside. And that is basically the extent of Valentine’s Day celebrations in Italy. But if you’ve traveled in Italy in the past few years, you’ve probably noticed lucchetti, or padlocks, attached to bridges, railing, and lampposts. While not an Italian invention, this “locks of love” tradition started in Italy in 2006 when novelist and screen writer Federico Moccia wrote a best-selling book called Ho voglio di te (I want you), followed by a movie by the same name. The story, about a pair of young Romans, includes a lie: the hero tells the young lady he desires of a legend (invented by him) in which lovers wrap a chain around the third lamppost on the north side of Rome’s Ponte Milvio bridge (built in 206 BC), lock it, and throw the key into the Tiber River, symbolizing the unbreakable bond uniting them. Between the popularity of the story and the Italian tradition of not being shy about expressing true amore, before long thousands of locks and chains had piled up, and the lamps atop two of the bridge’s lampposts actually crumbled under their weight. City officials who tried to solve the problem were accused – and we all know this is BAD in Italy – of being anti-love: “The left is against lovers,” one rightist city official, Marco Clarke, charged. Finally a compromise was reached and official spots for the locks were built – six sets of steel posts with chains on the bridge – so lovers could declare themselves without damaging the city’s infrastructure. And so the tradition began, and now it has spread throughout the country, with couples writing their names or initials on the locks before affixing them to posts or railings.
In Italy, Saint Valentine’s Day is not about expensive gifts, but instead a day to show someone you care; a day to say “Ti Voglio Bene” (I love you). And isn’t that what Valentine’s Day is supposed to be about, anyway?