Step away from the carnival to absorb some art and culture
By Joe Cannavo
It’s hard to believe that another school year is almost over and summer will soon be here. No more cabin fever, just that wonderful time of the year when we look forward to fun in the sun, with activities and outdoor festivities of every kind imaginable. Of course, the events that are most important to us as a community undergoing a renaissance of our culture and heritage are the many Italian festivals that take place in the tri-state area, some bigger than others, but all with the same goal: to expound, celebrate and share our Italian culture and heritage.
Between now and October not a week goes by without a festival taking place somewhere in the Delaware Valley. While these festivals are fun, food, and entertainment, it’s important to remember that this is not only what they are about. If you and your family have never attended one or have not been to one recently, here’s a reminder to put an Italian festival on this summer’s list of things to do.
These events have evolved from an an old-world tradition that lives on after more than a century of assimilation that has eroded much of our culture and heritage, but that today we strive to revive for future generations. In recent years, Italian Americans have begun re-attaching to their Italian roots. Italian is being taught in more and more schools in the region, and this year enrollment in the annual Delaware Italian-American Education Association’s Summer Italian Camp for children 4-14 years of age, La Mia Piazza, is greater than ever.
At the same time, the Italian-American mass media is once again stable, as exemplified by the Italian-American Herald and four area radio stations now carrying Italian-American programs, more stations than in the New York metro area. A task that yet lies ahead for us is the establishment of Italian language immersion programs in our public school which I have addressed in the past and intend to continue to press for in the future.
If this positive trend to preserve our Italian heritage is to continue, the community needs to support all of the projects of this current and energetic Italian-American Renaissance. There is no better way to expose our children and grandchildren firsthand to a live Italian culture and heritage experience than una festa Italiana. When you go you’ll enjoy the food and at some festivals the rides, but more importantly make it a family cultural experience. Go for the opportunity to live and experience the sights and sounds of an Italian festival. Check out the entertainment schedule and be sure to attend a performance of Italian song and dance. Visit any exhibit of Italian art or culture that some festivals often have on display, and display your heritage with pride. If it is a religious-based festival, you may even have the chance to attend an Italian language Mass. In the end, whatever you do to celebrate, preserve and remember Italian Heritage, take a moment to reflect and live your Italian origin and live the moment reattaching to your heritage.