Enjoy Italian Heritage Month this June

Happy Italian Heritage Month! Every June Ontario dedicates a month to celebrating all things Italian and the celebrations have begun to stretch across the country as well.

In Toronto, Italian Heritage Month started off with Castello Italia which transformed Casa Loma into an Italian Piazza complete with music, art, entertainment and food samples. There’s multiple

By |June 9th, 2014|Culture|0 Comments

Celebrate with me: Lucchetti dell’Amore per il giorno della festa degli innamorati

L’amore domina senza regole.
Love rules without rules.

The thing about writing about Italian traditions is that they are so ingrained that sometimes, we don’t even know the original reason as to why they developed or why they’ve continued. Not that we love the traditions any less – usually they mean we get to spend time

By |February 13th, 2014|Culture|2 Comments

Guest post: Sharing migration stories from the Campania region

Today we welcome a guest post from Abril Liberatori, a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at York University. Her dissertation explores immigrants from the Campania region in Italy who migrated to Canada in the post-World War II period. She aims to compare Campani immigrants’ experiences in Ontario and Buenos Aires. (Photo above:

By |January 7th, 2014|Culture|1 Comment

The Italian memories of Christmases past

My grandparents were storytellers. The stories they told all centred around the emotions related to family, to struggle, to laughter and to traditions. There is no better time for storytelling than Christmas.

Over the past two years, I’ve contributed articles to Panoram Italia, an Italian-Canadian magazine, about Italian culture and community. Panoram does fantastic Christmas-themed issues that give me the chance to reflect on Christmases past. Last year I contributed the article “What we used to get for Christmas” which chronicled the gifts that Italians gave at Christmas back in Italy. Oranges, chestnuts, sugar dolls were all recalled with fondness and I am still in awe at the smiles those memories of Christmas gave to all the older Italians I interviewed.

This year, I wrote “Remembering our First Christmases in Canada”, an article that tried to recapture what Christmas in a new land with new traditions felt like for Italian immigrants. For some it was a hardship, spending Christmas without family, for others they were reunited with sisters and brothers. And, as usual, shared food was a key part of the memories.

Here’s an excerpt from the article where I got to share a story from my maternal grandfather:

For immigrants to Canada there are many new experiences and customs that colour the start of their lives in a new country. Christmas in Canada, away from the family, rituals and comfort of home back in Italy, was one of the first notable moments they experienced. Everything was new and unexpected, from the weather to traditions.
My grandfather often told us of his first Christmas in Canada in 1952, which was memorable indeed. While working for the Canadian National Railway, the company provided all the meals for the workers, deducting the cost of the meal from the worker’s pay. He looked forward to the dinner provided by CNR on Christmas Eve, expecting a festive feast that would help celebrate the special day. But on December 24, he was greeted with a plain meal of chicken soup. Disappointed and alone, he went to a grocery store to buy all he could afford: one chocolate bar and one pound of grapes to celebrate.
However, on December 25, he experienced what came as a surprise to most Italians: that Canadians hold their Christmas celebrations on Christmas Day. The railway offered a big celebration meal to all workers and my grandfather came to learn a new tradition.

By |December 12th, 2013|Culture|4 Comments

Send a virtual panettone or cookie tray to your friends and family with these Italian ecards

Merry Christmas, Buon Natale! With one month to Christmas Day, it’s time for the gift giving to begin.

Last year for the Christmas season I featured two classic holiday recipes on the blog: colluri and turdilli. This year more recipes are on their way, but I wanted to offer you, my readers, a special gift.

So

By |November 25th, 2013|Culture|0 Comments

Guest Post: Italian memories from Northern Ontario

What does it mean to be Italian in North America? Today An Italian-Canadian Life welcomes a guest post by Amy Di Nardo, a university student studying nursing in Toronto,  who hopes to work in the gerontology field.  She loves garlic, kitchen-floor dances, and espresso. (I can’t say I blame her…)
The neighborhood I currently live in Toronto (Downsview) is very diverse. If I go for a walk on a Saturday afternoon, it excites me to hear different languages — whether it be Yiddish, Italian or Russian being spoken at different intersections. At a nearby park, I see young children playing on the swings, while a group of elderly ladies walk by, deep in conversation.

I have lived in Toronto for just about two years and it was a huge transition. I found that it took a great deal of time to adjust to the the rhythm of a large city. In my hometown of Sault Ste. Marie, I grew up in an Italian bubble. The city contains a very large Italian population relative to its size and due to its isolation from other major cities (nine hour drive to Toronto), a unique culture was created that lives and thrives within the community.

The ways in which ethnic communities interact, both internally and externally to other groups, seems very different in small versus metropolitan centres.

It didn’t take me much time to find an Italian presence in Toronto. The first experience I had was going to College Street for the Tarantella Festival. The street was closed off for dancing, musicians, vendors and artists such as Mimmo Cavallaro and Rionne Junno. I wouldn’t expect this sort of large-scale event to come to Sault Ste. Marie.

After this event, I was introduced to the popular GTA magazine, PanoramItalia, and the newspaper Lo Specchio. There were profiles, articles, events, language classes — everything you can think of! I quickly realized how organized and vastly different the Toronto Italian community is from Sault Ste. Marie — however, I still cannot put my finger on the exact variances.

By |November 12th, 2013|Culture|1 Comment