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A Message From the President

Ciao a tutti, Hello to everybody,

As we enter into the Christmas season, I would like to tell you about a few of the events happening at the Italian American Cultural Center:

  • December 1, the tree will be ready for our annual Mitten Tree where we collect mittens, gloves, hats, and scarves for the needy.
  • December 10 at 3pm, we are having our annual Santa Lucia celebration.
  • December 12, Nancy Danca will teach a cookie making class featuring love-knots and chiacchiere (wandas)
  • Some new and exciting news about our newsletter – starting at the beginning of the new year we are going to have a digital newsletter. However, we will continue to mail a paper copy for those who wish to read it in this manner. We are currently studying the layout and content and we will also feature paid advertising. I will keep you posted of all information regarding this new initiative.

I would like to let you know about the history and traditions of Natale (Christmas). Natale is a Christian festivity celebrating the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem Judea (now known as Palestine). December 25th is celebrated throughout the Christian world while people prepare Nativity scenes, Christmas trees, midnight Mass, gift exchanges, and singing holiday carols. In Italy, this day is traditionally used for preparing the Presepe (Nativity) in churches, town squares, and public places. This tradition began with the first living Presepe in 1223 by San Francesco d’Assisi in Greccio (Lazio). Wooden statues sculpted by Arnoldo di Cambio can be found in Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. Nowadays, France has made these Presepe a very important tradition in their holiday festivities, especially in the Provence region where they are known as “Santons”.

Christian Orthodox celebrate Natale on January 6, which is the Twelfth Day. Many of us know the carol “The Twelve Days Of Christmas” which represents the time period between December 25 and January 6.

The Pine tree was chosen by the Christian people as the Christmas Tree from all of the evergreen trees because of its triangular shape which represents the Holy Trinity. The first Christmas tree was introduced into the holiday season in Germany in 1611 by the Duchess of Brieg and in France beginning in 1840 by the Duchess of Orleans. Decorating the Christmas tree for Christmas was already popular by 1600 in Northern Europe. Catholics, after the reformation of Martin Luther (1483-1546) considered decorating Christmas Trees to be a Protestant tradition. It wasn’t until the Congress of Vienna (1814-1815) that the Prussians began diffusing this tradition of decorating also in Catholic countries.

I wish each and every one of you a Blessed Holiday Season.

Please support the efforts of the Italian American Cultural Center in order to spread our culture in our community.

Grazie – Thank you

BUON NATALE – Merry Christmas!!

Paolo Bartesaghi, President

Italian American Cultural Center of Iowa

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Oh What a Night!

Photos from “An Evening in Sicily.

View here

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Santa Lucia Celebration

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.

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Message From The President

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
Grazie
Thank you

Paolo Bartesaghi, President

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Giving Locally

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.

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2017 Outstanding Citizens

Congratulations!!

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.

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Italian-American Heritage Festival of IA

July 28th & 29th 2017

Western Gateway Park

See what’s happening

 

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Italian Easter Bread

This traditional Easter bread is topped with colored raw eggs, which cook as the bread bakes. It makes for a pretty centerpiece.

 

 

Ingredients

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

2 eggs

1/2 cup chopped mixed candied fruit

1/4 cup chopped blanched almonds

1/2 teaspoon aniseed

5 uncooked eggs, dyed

GLAZE:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 to 2 tablespoons 2% milk

Decorator candies, optional

Directions

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).

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Springtime in Italy

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Saint Joseph Altar Celebration

The Italian-American Cultural Center of Iowa will hold its 20th annual St. Joseph Altar celebration on March 18th and 19th, 2017.

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.

Baking

DSC01898 (Small)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.

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