La Festa Della Mamma

In Italy as in America, Mothers’s Day is always on the second Sunday of May.  Americans have been officially celebrating this day since 1914. Although Italians have honored their moms since Roman times, Italy didn’t have a designated Mother’s Day until 1957 when a parish priest from Assisi started the tradition. Just one year later all twenty regions of Italy were celebrating Mother’s Day.

Italians keep the celebration simple. Families come together to thank mom, make her breakfast and homemade gifts and cards. School-age children are encouraged to write her a poem and older children will make her a special dinner or sweet dessert.

Flowers are also a welcomed gift. Roses are a popular choice in both countries, but potentilla flowers are especially loved in Italy. Potentillas represent a mother’s protective nature because the leaves close up around the little flowers at night and in bad weather to protect them, just like a good mamma.

It is likely that all your first experiences of Italian culture came from your mother. As a child, your first taste of Italian food came from her kitchen and even though that was many years ago, the aroma probably still lingers in your memory.

Your first experience of Italian music may have been mamma or grandma singing you a lullaby like “Ninna Nanna” or playing Italian songs at a family gathering.

You may have heard your first Italian words from your mom or grandma. Even if you spoke English at home, some Italian words may have seasoned the conversations, especially the animated ones!

Since mothers are the source of our first experience of Italian culture, we honor them and thank them for making us the Italian Americans we are today. Be sure to wish the moms in your life a Buona Festa Della Mamma!

(You can find Ninna Nanna on YouTube.)

Submitted by Charlene Pardo