Holidays were always a significant part of my family's tradition, not only because the whole family gathered together to celebrate, but because there was always a particular Italian food connected to each holiday. Every Christmas the family would make struffoli – Italian honey balls about the size of marbles made from pieces of fried dough dipped in honey and then topped with colored sprinkles. It is an exclusive Neapolitan dish; my great-grandmother, who immigrated to the US by herself when she was 25 years old in 1913, learned the recipe back in Naples and brought the tradition of making it every Christmas into our family in America. Despite facing discrimination, she and her family had made massive efforts in learning about American cultural norms and although the family did not have much money and finding sufficient work with high-pay was difficult, they never felt like they were poor or deprived of anything because they were so traditional and family-oriented; they always had each other to lean on and family gatherings were very frequent therefore no one ever felt lonely. Making struffoli was one of many activities that brought the family even closer. Now that I think about it, I could not imagine having any Christmas without eating struffoli not only because they are so delicious, but also because I now realize it symbolizes my Italian heritage and it is up to my generation to keep the tradition going that my great-grandmother initially brought to our family.

Year: 1913

– Samantha MacDonald

Relationship:  unknown unknown