Christmas is a time for traditions, and for Joe and Cath Catanzariti, their Italian heritage combines with Griffith and Australian customs to create a unique celebration.
They sit down to do a video with The Area News to explain the importance of faith, family, friends and food at Christmas.
They find their combination of Italian heritage, their time in Australia and the influence of the Griffith community has all come together for what they call a ‘fusion’.
“We have fused a few traditions, when we get the family together we liked the baked ham, and the traditional Australian way of the beautiful fruit cake,” Cath said.
“That recipe had given to her by a beautiful local identity, her name was Margaret Cudmore.”
This year, their family will all come together, if not at Christmas but possibly on Boxing Day, to celebrate.
“We are just amazed that the lord has blessed us so much abundantly, and it all started with me marrying this beautiful man 53 years ago,” said Cath.
Faith is a strong part of their lives, and at Christmas they take the time to say thank you.
“Our living and our life was centered around our faith, especially at the time of Christmas,” said Cath.
“I would always remember my mother plucking me out of bed at 5.30am in the morning to go to mass at six in the middle of winter, snow everywhere, and I would be cocooned in this blanket.”
“Then once it was all over some kind men would build a great big bonfire in front of the church in the square, and people would warm their souls and their hearts before they would go home through the snow, probably barefoot because not many people had shoes in those days, and begin the day that way.”
When they were growing up, food was a journey – the picking, storing, making, cooking and of course the eating.
“Most women and my grandparents would dry the figs, and they would be kept as a special treat, dried and kept stored for Christmas time,” said Cath.
“They would come down and be split in half, and we’d put half a kernel of walnut in it, press it down, then put it through sugar and cinnamon and then put in the oven for a few minutes in the bread oven, and they would be a beautiful treat.
“I still love that treat… It’s absolutely beautiful.”
Joe said that family, no matter what culture, will remain the constant, unchanging tradition.
“One of the things when we came to Australia, the tradition of getting the family together, and even after 66 years in Australia, always in Griffith, the tradition of the family is the same,” said Joe.
“We just love being in Griffith, we love our community, we love our parish, and love being part of the Griffith scene.”
If you would like to feature your family in our exploration into how people in Griffith celebrate their Christmas, email email@example.com.
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