Why it’s important to embrace our culture

As a family with an extensive Italian heritage, celebrating these cultural days is important, yet for a period of my time it wasn’t. Actually, it was the opposite. During my teenage years I was living in small town that really made me feel ashamed of my culture and my nationality.

I was ostracised, picked on, left out and basically the victim of daily racism from my school mates, people I didn’t even know and even adults. So, I chose to really distance myself from that part of my identity. I didn’t want to, however at such a vulnerable age, fitting in was more important.

Now as an adult, I am back in Melbourne and wanting to ensure I raise my children to embrace their culture and not ever be ashamed of that. With events like the Carlton Italian Fiesta there is only joy in celebrating all things Italian.

We have attended for several years now, and I find it just gets better and better. Last year, we enjoyed many of the activities on offer for the children such as he free kids corner with jumping castle, painting and a mini football drills section. The aroma of familiar foods, the sound of grinding coffee, the vivid green white and red colours splashed about we all loved the classic Fiat cars lining the streets. Lygon Street certainly comes alive for a festival like this.  

What was great was the representation of all nationalities to come together for this festival.  Whether you are Italian, married into an Italian family, have friends who are Italian or maybe you just love to know more about the country, the culture and the food!!  We all get a chance to immerse ourselves in a culture that is so rich to Australia’s migrant history. So many Italians have called this place home for decades and in turn what they have given this country cannot be denied.  Good coffee, authentic pizza, the love of pastries like bomboloni and cannoli, not to mention charcuterie, pasta, olive oil a good roasted chestnut! Our culinary diversity here in Australia has been widened and appreciated by many because of this authentic Italian influence.

However, it’s more than just the food alone. The Italian culture is about connecting, and family is at the heart. Our time on Sunday was a pure family fun day out. We even found the perfect Bialetti coffee pot that will assist with my much-needed love of having a good caffeine fix first thing in the morning.

The Italians don’t take themselves too seriously either. We laughed so much we cried at the entertainment including Joe Avati, and the Viva Italia Show. Our favourite part of the day was certainly dancing the tarantella and sneaking back in the evening when the DJ was still cranking out the tunes.  

Reminding myself now as an adult that whilst not always did I celebrate my heritage so proudly, I can now, and nurture that cultural awareness in my children.

We hope to see you there at this year Carlton Italian Fiesta.