Italian-Irish Cultural Heritage, Research Paper Example
Words: 1934Research Paper
The social aspect of cultural heritage facilitates development of identity and a sense of belonging among members of any given society. Acknowledgement of one’s cultural roots and inclination serves the purpose of categorizing each other into the tangible and the intangible values of a certain culture (Navrud and Ready, 39). Through the history of civilization and colonization, each society was exerting painstaking efforts towards ensuring dominance and strength of their cultures. In the process, social dynamics and other inevitable forces integrated different societies together. In this regard, modern social settings comprise of members from different cultural backgrounds. Colonization and other forms of mass civil activities mixed up pure cultures into complex societies with little or no subscription to their root cultural beliefs. However, the desire for members of a common cultural background to maintain and strengthen their identity still operates within the pillars of integrated nations like the US. In this context, it is common to hear someone saying he or she is a Polish-Russian American, Italian-Irish American or a German-Irish American. All these compounded cultural identifications are efforts directed by members of the society towards acknowledging their ancestral backgrounds. Therefore, cultural heritage focus on consolidating the aspect of ancestry and cultural identity within integrated societies (Navrud and Ready, 47).
In cultural studies, the notable difference in social practices by members living within the same neighborhood calls for the need to recognize the influence of cultural heritage in life. It is true that some of the typical social activities associated with Russian and Polish cultures still manifests in Polish-Russian American citizens. This means that elements of culture are transferable from one generation to another through history. Despite the degree modernization evident in most societies today, one can still be able to spot some cultural elements through channels like media and the film industry. In addition, special cultural holidays serve the purpose of communicating cultural values to its subjects. From a social perspective, these cultural values have some perceived level of benefits and importance to those practicing them (Navrud and Ready, 61). This accounts for the continuation of cultural teachings through religious organizations and other social movements in the US. Although some elements of culture fall into the deep pits of civilization and modernization, others remain paramount in serving as an identity to every ancestral root in America today. This means that current generations in the US may not be practicing the ideal cultural values of Russian or Italian societies. The efforts directed towards acknowledging ones ancestral practices lies in the need to trace family backgrounds using a family tree. In this context, I will trace my family background from my great grandparents to my parents.
In this generation, both my current parents are from an Italian-Irish cultural background. My parents and other older relatives proved resourceful with respect to the information I used in constructing my family tree. My father has documented most information concerning the cultural and economic practices of the grandparents and great grandparents. Based on these information, both my great grandmother and my great grandfather were Italian Immigrants to America. My great grandmother and great grandfather were born in 1854 and 1851 respectively. They were born in the Italian city of Venice. They lived through their youthful ages in the rural side of Venice as farmers. During the 1890’s there was massive immigration of Italians to America in search of better livelihoods, which were not available in their native countries (Sciarrino, 72). It was during this time that my great grandparents moved to the US. Upon entry, they settled in North Eastern city of Boston. Since Italian immigrants were farmers, my great grandparents continued cultivation of grapevines for production of wine. Just like the other Italian immigrants, my great grandparents were slow in adapting the American culture because of their inability to speak English. They continued speaking Italian as the chief language in their new societies. Due to their farming skills and limited knowledge in English language, they did not enroll in any education program. They lived through their entire adult life in the North Eastern city of Boston.
My grandfather was born 1902 and raised in Boston. Based on my great grandparents’ cultural background, my grandfather had pure Italian roots. He helped his parents with farming activities through his teenage years while attending elementary level education in a local school. My grandfather experienced difficulties in education and ended up performing poorly in his final assessment. Subsequently, he could not proceed with education. He moved to New York in search for casual employment. On the other hand, my grandmother was a pure Irish living in New York. Her parents immigrated into the US during the 1890’s. Unlike the Italians, Irish immigrants could speak in English (Sciarrino, 68). Therefore, my great grandparents from my mother side moved to work in agricultural processing industries in New York. My grandmother was born in 1907 and raised in the lowly Irish settlement in New York. She had the opportunity to attend school and displayed average academic ability due to her ability to communicate in English. In this case, she joined high school after completing her elementary program. Upon graduating from high school, she had to look for formal employment because her parents could not afford college education. In was then when they met with my grandfather working together in a wine industry in the outskirts of New York. They lived through the better years of youth working and living in New York before moving to Philadelphia in search of business ventures.
My father was born in 1946 in Philadelphia. He was raised in a middle class neighborhood where my grandparents settled after moving from New York. He acquired substantial education after graduating from high school in 1962. My grandparents’ business was not peaking up well so my father could not proceed to college. He inherited his parents’ business ventures which included a car wash, clothes store and a couple of household goods shops. On the other hand, my mother was born and raised in New York before moving to Philadelphia during her teenage years. Just like my father, she is from an Italian-Irish ancestral background. Her family was struggling with their economic stability in the industrial settings of New York (Audrey, 25). In this regard, my mother finished her high school education and moved to Philadelphia in search of employment opportunities. In the process, she met with my father and moved in together. Since their union, they have made ends meet and provided for the family through proceedings from their average businesses in the city.
With respect to economic stability and class standing in the society, all generations of my family have survived through hard times by causal and low income economic activities. My great grandparents were small scale farmers in Boston. My grandparents settled in New York where they worked as casual laborers. Currently, my parents are operating small household businesses in Philadelphia. Therefore, I could say my family stands at the middle income earning class within the American society. Through the three generations, there was significant mobility of class in the family. Some of the possible factors for the mobility could be the stereotype received by Italian and Irish immigrants to the US (Audrey, 31). Anglo European Protestants perceived Catholic immigrants from Italy and Ireland as primitive and indigenous. Therefore, they were treated unfairly and ended up in low paying casual jobs in production firms. In the context of education, the aspect of race influenced greatly the education levels of all generations in the family. The fact that Italian Immigrants had difficulties in English language accounts for poor academic performance in American schools. In addition, the stereotype created by hatred from the Protestants towards Catholics hindered achievement of academic dreams by most Irish families (Byrne and Coleman, 49).
My entire family tree composes of Italian and Irish ancestral roots. All my great grandparents had pure Italian and Irish origins. They mixed up their cultural values in the second generation that produced my grandparents. In the process, there was integration of Italian and Irish cultural roots in the family. However, neither culture proved dominant over the other. The main reason for this is that Irish and Italians shared almost similar cultural values (Byrne and Coleman, 56). Both ancestral backgrounds practiced farming as their chief economic activity. In addition, Italian and Irish immigrants were primarily Roman Catholics. However, the fact that Irish immigrants could speak English unlike the Italians created difference in aspects of success in economic and social undertakings. In my family, the integration of these ancestral roots blended the similar cultural values together while neutralizing the differences (Audrey, 97). Therefore, neither culture became dominant over another one. To date, my family practices Catholic faith and engages in low income generating economic activities just like our ancestors.
In this context, one of the appropriate cultures in history today is the Italian-Irish culture. Italians and Irish immigrants had more similarities than differences during their immigration into America. In this regard, they integrated together more easily than any other cultural unification in the US today. This led to the development of Italian-Irish culture commonly found in the North Eastern cities of the US. The chief languages spoken by members of this culture are English and Italian. However, most members adopted English as their official language in order to fit into their new environment. Italian-Irish people practices Catholic faith as their dear religion. Catholic churches are widely seen in societies in which they reside. Some of their cultural holidays are the Christmas Day and the Easter holiday, among other catholic holidays. In addition, members of this culture celebrate Festa della Liberazione, which corresponds to the Italian Liberation Day on April 25’TH. At the dining table, Italian-Irish people likes cuisine like the Irish Soda bread, Chicken Picatta, Swedish Braid and simple Curried Chicken. These aspects of religion, language, holidays and cuisine serves as the identity elements of the Italian-Irish culture in the US.
In my current generation, I still incorporate most of the cultural values subscribed by the Italian-Irish community in America. I together with all my family members practices catholic faith as the only family religion. In the context of language, we use Italian as our household language and English in official social functions. Christmas and Easter holidays are the major religious functions celebrated within my family. In addition, we celebrate Festa della Liberazione every 25’TH day of April (Byrne and Coleman, 37). Despite availability of processed and fast food in our neighborhood, my mother still likes traditional dishes. Once in a week, especially during weekends, we collectively participate in preparing these traditional dishes. Some of the common meals include Curried Chicken and Irish Soda Bread. In this case, I still incorporate most cultural practices in almost every aspect of my life. With respect to all these practices, the most important thing I value about my family is its religious faith. In this context, I believe that the Catholic faith serves as a religious identity to Italian and Irish immigrants in America today (Byrne and Coleman, 138). In addition, Catholic faith plays a great role in supplementing my social and spiritual needs. Therefore, I hold this aspect of my culture dearly in my practices.
Audrey, Suzanne. Multiculturalism in practice: Irish, Jewish and Italian migration to America. Pittsburg: Ashgate, 2011. Print.
Byrne, James and Coleman, Philip. Ireland, Italy, and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History. Boston: ABC-CLIO, 2008. Print.
Navrud, Stale and Ready, Richard. Value Cultural Heritage: Applying Environmental Valuation Techniques to Historic Buildings, Monuments and Artifacts. New York: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2010. Print.
Sciarrino, Chiara. The language and stereotype of Italian and Irish culture. California: Aracne, 2009. Print.
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