In Italy not all Sundays are created equally. People dedicate Sundays to family lunches and the rest of the day is for leisure and social activities.
Meals are women’s best show on Sundays, they get up early in the morning, before everybody else to cook for the family and make sure everyone is treated properly from appetizers to desserts, from the smallest kid to the oldest person.
This past Sunday was a different celebration.
I am in Italy now, participating to my niece’s First Communion event. This is truly a treat, a day to remember and the first important mile stone in a Catholic person’s life. It happens every year in May. Boys and girls in elementary school will go through a couple of years of religious school to learn how to become good Christians and get prepared for the big event of the First Communion. Some churches go as far as organizing spiritual retreats for the kids.
A wide range of businesses related to the First Communion affair are busy for the entire month of May preparing every details from cakes and sweets, to party favors. Restaurants, photographers, hair dressers, tailors and seamstresses work together to assure the event is successful, parents and guests are happy and have something to remember. Jewelry stores are also very happy in the month of May, as the gold gifts for the First Communion are a must.
My niece was prepared as a bride for the altar. The day before, all the women of the house including the First Communion girl got electrified with trying on dresses, shoes and jewelery, hairdresser appointments and making sure all the party favors were ready to go. At night, nobody wanted to go to sleep, we didn’t really know where to put our heads made up so beautifully to keep them preserved until the next day. And the next day was really special for the kids and the adults! Confetti and photographs greeted the little girl coming down from the stairs of her home, my niece, a 10 years old was dressed in white from head to toes. Her father was the only person allowed to accompany her to the church as her escort, the rest of us followed later. The church isle was also made up with white flowers to celebrate all the 10 years old kids entering the Catholic World as faithful Christians while cheerful music filled the air.
(Photo of sweets: http://www.mondodelgusto.it/2011/03/26/pasticceria-nonna-margherita-putignano-8bari)
What really intrigued me was the elegance of the Italian people dressed to honor their kids first mile stone of life. I am Italian and I should be used to see well-dressed people, but somehow I still manage to get surprised when I see Italians young and old attending some functions. There was nothing out-of-place in their dressing up, not even a hair. Colors and proportions are always well-balanced. Of course, everything was “all’ultimo grido” of the latest fashion.
The manners of Italian people at some formal affair are so affected and polite, but not disgustingly stuffed. I love to observe some youngsters giving up their seats to older people and helping them in getting up and down to follow the religious function. Certain things in my culture are still well-planted and are excellent foundations for generation to come.
The church of Maria Maddalena built in 1969 is an extravagant architecture considered very avant-guard for that era. A cement pagoda style, almost resembling a Japanese house was not well-accepted by the followers and much criticized by the public and the press. That church so many years later has seen a few funerals, weddings, births and joyous events in my family and in my friends’ families. To see Don Filippo again, the priest manager of that church, grey and older and remembering him young, with dark hair and just out of college, made me realize how much time has passed by and how deep my roots are in this land of Italy.
Copyright © 2012 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved
Valentina Cirasola is an author and a designer, writing about and observing Italian culture and style. Check out her books available on this site in the Books section and on