An Italian Thanksgiving Feast
When one thinks of Italy, the American tradition of Thanksgiving is not the first this that comes to mind. However, if you find yourself at the Duquesne University Italian Campus during the Fall semester that is exactly what you will find- only a Thanksgiving alla Romana.
With the Italian Campus just celebrating its eleventh year in Rome, there have been just that many Thanksgiving feasts to celebrate together, although this year marked its largest feast of all with over 160 guests! Guests included the Fall 2012 students (largest class of students in Rome campus history-53), faculty, staff, our Spiritan Chaplain Fr. John McFadden and the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth (the order of Sisters which hosts the Italian Campus in Rome). Many other special guests traveled from our home Pittsburgh campus, including alumni of the Italian Campus, visiting families of current students, and employees of the University.
In the tradition of Thanksgiving, our evening began with the Holy Mass celebrated in our chapel by our Italian Campus professor Fr. Paul Haffner, with participation of Fall 2012 students, as well as a twenty person local Roman choir. Afterwards we headed to the large dining hall of the Italian Campus where we were greeted by the family of the Spirito DiVino restaurant, who has been catering our Thanksgiving feast at the Italian Campus for almost ten years.
Though the idea of Thanksgiving is only understood in Italy through turkeys seen on syndicated American television shows, the idea of giving thanks through food and with your loved ones is something that is very easy for Italians to relate to. This is how the idea of a Thanksgiving alla Romana was born. The traditional pumpkin staple was transformed into pumpkin lasagna and the side of cranberry (which is inexistent in Italy) became blueberry chutney. The turkey, stuffing and gravy have stayed the same, as well as the homemade pumpkin pies, a gift from the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth.
Some of the Fall 2012 Italian Campus students prepared a few Christmas songs to perform for our guests, as well as a hymn sung in Polish by the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth. Afterwards, the Istok Roman Choir concluded our night singing songs in English, Italian and Russian. They thanked us for how memorable this experience was for all of them. They said they have never seen anything so heartwarming than that of the American spirit of Thanksgiving.
It is never easy to be away from families and friends over the holidays, but praying, celebrating and feasting together brings all hearts closer, no matter where they are. This “American Thanksgiving alla Romana” turned out to be a truly blessed, intercultural event.
Alana R. Sacriponte
Class of ’06, Italian Campus Alum Fall ‘03, current Assistant Director of the Italian Campus
“I would have never thought that I would return to the Eternal City for a visit to the Duquesne University Rome Campus only two quick years after I had studied there. Returning back brought floods of the many memories and lessons a study abroad trip could teach a Duquesne student: learning how to interact with peoples of different tongues and cultures, navigating to new and exciting places, self-awareness, the importance of new friendship, and making the best of all situations.
Celebrating Thanksgiving with the staff, students, and friends of the campus is an experience that I wish many others could take part in. Not only is it a time to celebrate the historic American holiday and our many blessings, but it also a time to share our heritage with the Italian friends and guest of the campus during the meal,” said Zach Zeigler, Student Government President.