US Catholic Faith in Real Life

All about family on Christmas Eve

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Passing on traditions can means passing on faith.

By Guest Blogger Philip J. DiNovo

I come from a large extended Italian American family. My father's parents had their 9 children, spouses, children at their home for Christmas. It was a full house, loud and joyful with very strong ties. 

We would have food and drinks until the time to fast and then later we’d go to Midnight Mass. I was a choir boy when I was very young and the choir sang at the Midnight Mass. There would be so many Christmas plants, and the high mass was very special. The old pastor gave each boy in the choir 50 cents. We stood in line for the gift, which at that time was deeply appreciated. 

After mass we returned to my grandparents for coffee and Italian Christmas pastries. My grandmother would make her traditional pastries in the shape of a C for Christ, and she would make so many! Each family took home this very special pastry from Sicily.  

My parents and grandparents have all been called to their eternal reward, but my two brothers and two sisters still gather at Christmas Eve. So many traditions are no longer a part of our celebration. I feel that it’s an obligation to pass on our religious and ethnic traditions. Only God knows what they will retain, but I have kept the faith with those who came before me.

Jesus is the reason for the season and Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ. Italians for many centuries have built strong families and passed on them many traditions. I will try again this Christmas, and I hope I will realize that when we do the best we can then leave it up to God. This Christmas is a blessing and when we celebrate it with faith and tradition, it reminds us of its true meaning!

Guest blogger Philip J. DiNovo is a U.S. Catholic reader.

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Guest blog posts express the views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of U.S. Catholic, its editors, or the Claretians.