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Names are important because they identify people, and surnames are doubly important because they also tell of the origins and history of a family through the centuries. In fact, researching your surname, also known as last names or family names, is an exciting way to learn more about your family history. When researching Italian surnames you will quickly find that each family name was created for a particular purpose. Italy has always been known for its lively and extraordinary land and people, and Italian names exhibit these same qualities.
Some surnames are widespread throughout a given area, so much so they start to be associated to it. In Italy too, we can find surnames popular all over the country, and others more typical of particular area. The latter often give us a good indicator of where the person may be from.
Italian traditional masks for Carnival
During Carnival, our traditional masks become protagonists. Everyone loves them: tourists, adults, teenagers and children. In fact, wearing Carnival costumes and masks is a tradition truly embraced by all, regardless of their age.
In the last few years, Carnival has been more and more about dressing up like celebrities, politicians and cartoon characters, but our very own traditional Italian masks, everlasting and always recognizable, are the true essence of Carnival, itself, as they have been representing this time of the year for centuries.
Here are some of the more famous!
Pantalone is linked to the Venetian tradition and it is among the most represented masks in the Commedia dell'Arte.
Pulcinella: a cultural character behind the Carnival mask
Carnival is the Italian celebration of fancy dressing, fun and tricks, following the famous saying "A carnevale ogni scherzo vale" (At Carnival, every prank goes). Everybody, young and old alike, decides to wear a costume and hide their face behind a mask.
Although it is frequent, nowadays, to dress up as modern celebrities and politicians, Italian culture is famously rich in historical masks that have become real characters reflecting popular and cultural traditions. Pulcinella is probably the most famous of them all.
Who is Pulcinella
San Gennaro: A Traditional Catholic Neapolitan Feast
By Gina Paone Kulch-Stritch
Often Italian-American culture is portrayed in a stereotypical light. Current examples of this are evident in reality television programs. While there can be truth in stereotypes the Italian-American takes a hard hit.
There is no need to go back to the Renaissance to illustrate the creative genius of Italians and Italian-Americans.
Carlo Levi's 1930s masterpiece Christ Stopped at Eboli (Cristo si è fermato a Eboli) is a literary gem that was made into an exquisite film. Since the largest percentage of Italian-Americans are from south of Rome, and the film is set in the Basilicata region of Italy, this should be of interest to many.
Parents may be two of the most important people in our lives, but certainly grandparents are no less so. Grandparents are a family's history, and through them a family's origins are handed down to new generations.
Cakes cooked together, experiences and stories told near a fireplace, holidays together...these are only some of the things usually shared with grandparents that grandchildren will always remember and perhaps will in turn pass on to their own future grandchildren.
The important role grandparents play in a family should always be recognized. That is why Italy decided to create a special day in order to honour them: la Festa dei Nonni (Grandparent's Day). While this holiday was introduced in the USA in 1978 thanks to Marian McQuade, a housewife from West Virginia, it was only in 2005 that it began to be celebrated in Italy.
Italian-Americans have made their mark on the business scene in America since their arrival in the late 19th century. From Gil Amelio, former CEO of Apple and National Semiconductor to Samuel DiPiazza, the current CEO of Pricewaterhousecoopers, it is a long list, which just goes to show the entrepreneurial spirit of Italian-Americans.
Many of America's most beautiful buildings are a result of the creativity and tireless efforts of Italian American architects. Who can forget the influence that Mario Joseph Ciampi had on buildings and public spaces in San Francisco's Bay Area? Or the genius of Romaldo Giurgola, instrumental in the designs of buildings like the Lang Music Building, United Fund Headquarters Building, Penn Mutual Tower and the INA Tower? Then there is Thom Mayne, recipient of the Pritzker Prize, Brunner Prize and the Edward MacDowell Medal.
O SOLE MIOOOOOOOOOOOOOO .... STA 'NFRONTE A TTEEEEE'................
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, thousands and thousands of Italians (mostly from the south) left their homeland to find a better life across the sea in the Americas. Many found their way to the ports of New Orleans, Philadelphia, Boston, and especially New York, where they immediately sought for their Italian brethren. Eventually, these enclaves became full-fledged communities as colorful as San Francisco's North Beach, Boston's North End and New York's Little Italy, among others.
Follow the fingers of sun from the sky to the pavement where a lifetime of furniture waits to be tossed into a truck and trundled away. Ducking under a wobbling mattress I grab a couple of cases to add them to the pile as a clasp cracks open and papers flood onto the driveway.
I'm left with half a suitcase swinging in my left hand. I swear under my breath. No matter how many suitcases you destroy, swearing in front of parents is always poor form.
"Good one, Anna" my brother grins, watching from inside the truck. I take the mangled suitcase inside, away from the chaos of boxes, brothers and dad's Bocelli CD on repeat.
In today’s world, to be an Italian can be a very good thing: You dress well, live well and speak with a sexy accent (just ask Paolo). The world looks to Italy and Italians for their opinions on food, fashion, cars and whatever else is cool. Sadly however, there was a time, at least here in the United States, when newly-arrived Italians were treated worse than animals.
This is a glimpse into some of the struggles that Italians had to endure in their attempts to make a better life for themselves in America.
Australia has been heavily influenced by its many Italian immigrants and Australians of Italian descents. Italians are the third largest ethnic group in the country and Italian is the third most commonly spoken language. Since Italian immigration began in the 1850's, there have been many successful Italian-Australians in all areas of life, and Italians have influenced our food and our culture. Some of our best known and most distinguished actors are of Italian-Australian descent, such as Greta Scacchi and Anthony LaPaglia.
Setting the Standard for Fraud...
There are few fraudulent financial schemes out there today that reverberate through history quite like the infamous Ponzi Scheme. Although this term has made recent headlines, this con is not new and stirs up so many emotions due to the fact the scheme only works with a very charismatic con-man. The trickster that would set the standard for this kind of fraud was an Italian immigrant that went by the name of Charles Ponzi.
Growing up in Italian American households, many of us have been witness to bizarre rituals and beliefs practiced by our parents and grandparents. Many of them never fully explained to us; you just did them because you were supposed to. These rituals and superstitions are shrouded in the mists of time and have been practiced by Italians for countless generations. Some may seem silly in our modern world, but the continuation of these superstitions is a link to the past, when ancient pagan traditions had to be modified in order to survive in a world of Christianity. The fact that these superstitions are still with us is a testament to just how strong forces of good luck, prosperity and ill fortune are even today.
The first generation of brave individuals and families who left the Italian homeland faced many hardships towards their goal of a better life. Often the men of the family would arrive first at one of the major ports and have to find food, shelter and a job in a strange new land before the whole family would arrive. As waves of immigrants flooded the waterfronts of cities such as New York, Boston, Philadelphia and New Orleans, they often pushed the earlier arrivals of Irish, German, Jewish and Portuguese immigrants out of their ethnic enclaves or took over the old neighborhoods as the previous occupants moved out.
Much has been written of the Italian male immigrant - of his intrepid desires and accomplishments. But what of the tenacious Italian woman who came to America in search of success - her numbers are also strong and many.
Between 1901 and 1910, nearly nine million immigrants came to the United States. Large ratios of these immigrants were young Italian women, who bravely left their small towns and villages to follow the shadows of their ancestors.
In 1910, both my Italian grandmothers were among those dauntless young women who left their little towns and villages to come to America. It took a special kind of bravery for a young woman to leave her home and family and make that voyage of a lifetime. It's that same unifying, inherited, spirit that lives within every Italian-American woman - past, present and future.
For those of us who live in Italian American communities, festival time can be better than Christmas. Whether a festival for a patron saint, traditional foods or ethnic pride, Italian American festivals bring out the best in the community and in many places are the highlight of the year. Everywhere the early Italian immigrants settled they brought with them their traditions and the strongest of these bonds to the Old Country was the Catholic faith and its adherents to its calendar of saints feast days.
St. Patrick may get all the attention with the famous parades and green beer, but for some Italian Americans (including me) it means only two more days until St. Joseph's Day. Growing up in an Italian American family, St. Joseph's Day was always one of my favorite holidays - I could take the day off from school and all I had to do was visit relatives and eat! The tradition was brought over with the first immigrants and is still celebrated in both the old Italian American neighborhoods in the big cities and households nationwide. Every March 19, Italian Americans across the country will be sitting down to one of our favorite feasts.