Whimsical story of young Italian children at Christmas in Little Italy.
Travel with me to the Adirondack mountains of New York to a small town known as Saratoga Springs.
Early on, the west side of Saratoga Springs became populated by Italian immigrants and soon became known as Little Italy. The children of the Italian populace celebrated Christmas far differently than the American children.
Little Jerry Consiglio
On Christmas Eve, I always left Santa a salami sandwich and a glass of wine. My cousin Angelo left him some provolone cheese and a whole loaf of Italian bread. Angelo then went up on the roof and greased the chimney with olive oil.
My cousin Albert chose to leave Santa a Sicilian pizza and a bottle of wine.
You see, we figured Santa had to be Italian; even the reindeer had to have been Italian. After all, the head reindeer was named Rudolph--just like the actor Valentino!
Of course, a lot of people didn’t know Santa was Italian, and certainly didn’t know why he was so fat. But think about it--all that Italian food and no exercise? We figured Mrs. Claus made him lots of lasagna, and we believed there was a big Italian Market at the North Pole.
Even Santa’s clothes, we knew, were real Brazzi originals!
Did you ever wonder why Santa put his finger alongside his nose as he gets ready to go up the chimney? That’s easy for an Italian to answer--he eats a lot of hot red peppers and then sneezes to get enough “torque” to raise his big body back up the chimney! It’s so simple to figure this out when you are Italian. In fact, as children, we wished everybody could be Italian so they could understand the jolly gentleman who makes Christmas so special.
One year, Santa filled my long brown socks with walnuts, tangerines, candy and figs on a string. I even noticed that he cleaned up the soot on the floor by the chimney. You see, he is not only Italian, but he is clean as well. All I could say in those wonderful years was, "THANK HEAVEN FOR THIS SICILIAN SANTA CLAUS!"
Did you know that Santa makes his sled in Sicily, in a very high-security place? It takes about a year to build a sled to his exact specifications. The sled has to be strong to carry all of those presents (and let’s not forget all the coal for children who have been bad).
Santa loads his sled with a basket of food for his long trip around the world. In the basket you will find pepper sandwiches, chicken cacciatore, baked lasagna, sausage sandwiches, meatball subs with parmesan cheese, and of course, Italian butter cookies of all varieties. He tops it all off with a good Italian Chianti to cleanse the palate.
I hope all of those who didn’t know Santa’s nationality before do so now. Wow, aren’t Italians something?
On behalf of all the children from Little Italy, “Merry Christmas to alla…….and to alla, a gooda nite.”