My mind and heart are full with all of the different ways I could approach writing a blog post about Ravioli Day. I’ll probably try to cover all of them, so bear with me!
For as long as I can remember, Ravioli Day was a huge part of our family’s Christmas tradition. My mother and her three sisters would go to my grandmother’s and make ravioli from scratch. I remember them cutting out the circles of the dough with glasses from grandmother’s cabinets. In my memory (which might be a little faulty), Ravioli Day used to last multiple days. I’m guessing that’s because all the kids also had to be taken care of. Some years, my mother would pick my brother and I up from school and then we’d go back to my grandmother’s (or later, my aunt’s- they all live on the same street, so it didn’t matter which house), and get to play with our cousins. When Christmas Day arrived, we celebrated with a giant sit-down family dinner. The banquet tables snaked through my grandparents’ basement and we soon outgrew them. We moved to a restaurant that we let us take over while they were closed, and that was awesome. And then, we eventually had to move on from there. Our next home was the parish center in the neighborhood church, and that’s where we settled. Sometimes dinner would consist of 50 of us, sometimes 75. Some of us brought in-laws, some of us moved on to spending Christmas with in-laws. We may have multiplied in numbers and we may have had to switch locations, but there were a few things that stayed the same. My grandparents were always so proud of the wonderful family they created. Things were inherently always loud. And we always had ravioli. I don’t even think I knew there was a course BEYOND the ravioli (hello, entire turkey dinner) until I was a teenager. We peaked at ravioli – why bother continuing? It was (and still is) just that good.
These days, my grandparents have passed away and our family dinner traditions have evolved. It’s a little bittersweet, of course. With a family this big, there are very few reasons for us all to get together (97% of us grandkids are already married – *cough*) so Christmas was our reason. This year, for the very first time, we had a Christmas season family reunion, which was awesome. Out of 24 grandchildren (my 20 year old sister being the youngest), we were only missing 3. Now that’s a good turnout! Anyway, even though we don’t share Christmas dinner anymore, we haven’t been able to give up the ravioli. And can you blame us?! It wasn’t until I moved home from Los Angeles that I really got to take part in Ravioli Day. I think for a while, we were more of a hindrance than a help, but at some point, that switch flipped. Now it’s a tradition my mom shares with me and her sisters share with their daughters. Once a year, we get together and make HUNDREDS of homemade ravioli. This year our final tally was 627. We’ve definitely ventured into the 700’s before – it just depends on when we run out of filling or dough (whichever goes first – this year it was filling). I love spending time around a kitchen table (or an island), with my mom and my aunts and my cousins, laughing, talking, and working. Not only do we end up with all the ravioli, but we are continuing a tradition begun by my grandmother. We have become part of the story. And we are creating our own traditions within the tradition – we now do Ravioli Day gifts! They are often the first gifts I unwrap during the Christmas season, just small (wonderful) tokens to celebrate our family and our day. I don’t want to make it sound all schmaltzy – I’m really the cheesy sentimental one. I just can’t help it. Anyone who knows me knows how much my family means to me, and Ravioli Day is one of the purest manifestations of that.
A lot of my friends wait for Ravioli Day every year – they want to know the final count – and it tends to kick off the holiday season (we were a little late this year), so I thought I would try to document some of the day. Enjoy the photos!
Do you have holiday traditions you love? What are some of the things you do with your friends, family, etc, that put you in the holiday spirit?