Italian Cookies and Tortellini for Christmas |

Italian Cookies and Tortellini for Christmas

February 6, 2019

I grew up in a family that spent time in a way probably different than a lot of my peers.

Being from Long Island, New York with a very Italian family on my dad’s side, there are certain things that force us to gather: holidays, birthday, weddings, and funerals. All of which are filled with amazing vintage style Italian cookies and pasties with satisfying colors, mouthwatering flavors like marzipan and chocolate, and require days to produce. That is, unless you get them from your local Italian or Sicilian family-run bakery in Queens.

I will always remember the white cardboard boxes wrapped with promising red and white string. These comforting traditions are something I’ve missed since leaving New York and assimilating into Northern California life the last 25 or so years. In fact, anytime I go home I bring with me a black and silver sequined bag I once got on clearance at Express (back before those flip sequins were cool, which is what covers this bag) and fill it with two of those white boxes filled with a sea of my memories that could only be eaten with a cup of coffee and company. The weight would roughly equate to about $100 worth of cookies in those two boxes that I’d put in my carry on sequinned “cookie bag.” Yes, all the almond paste, chocolate, raspberry jam filled, “piñole” covered (pine nuts) glory always had a reservation in that bag.

If you’d like to adopt delicious Italian cookies into your own family traditions, here is a Pinterest board with some of my favorites.

Even though it was a Northern Italian tradition and my family was from Sicily to be specific, growing up they had never made classic foods such as tortellini. However, my wonderful Mexican mother always adopted homemade Italian traditions out of love for my father. The last three years, my dad began to roll up his sleeves and as a family, we’d make homemade ravioli that would be coupled with my mom’s incredible tomato sauce on Christmas Eve. This year we tried handmade tortellini!

Watch our Holidays 2018 recap video where my family and I make homemade Italian cookies and tortellini. 

Growing up here our traditions and ways we relaxed. We ate, we shopped, we visited, we attended mass, had celebrations when the time called for it– and ate some more. Desserts galore, a cold cut and cheese plate surrounded each meal and conversation. And, of course, some occasional Catholic guilt and commenting on how much weight people have gained in between. We attended a Broadway show or the ballet once in a while during the holidays. Occasionally. there were visits to the cemetery in Queens to leave flowers for all of my Great Grandparents and other relatives who were in the family cemetery, then would be followed by more food. I remember the Italian sausage coils that were cooked in a food truck next to the cemetery that would be chopped up and placed in a sweet roll. To this day, I haven’t found anything quite like it. As far as our traditions, that was about it.

Now, I have my own family– a husband and two stepsons. It’s mostly just us now, with the exception of a few of my relatives that I love. We’ve been through a lot of tragic changes to our family that I realized we needed something to look forward to.

New traditions.

Aside from Homemade cookies and tortellini, my dad started a new tradition for us this year: He taught himself “Silent Night” on his Mandola. It’s a new hobby for him that he’s learning so quickly and it was absolutely incredible! He was so nervous that he even started shaking and took off for his bedroom to escape after the mini concert. But, you know, I play the ukulele (well, really I own one and occasionally touch it) and I had decided I would join my dad. I determined to learn two songs and that way, next year, we can surround our family with music. This has been a dream of mine since childhood though we’re not musicians at all. Yet, when it is for others I am definitely more motivated.

Traditions that you deem healthy and heartwarming are so important.

It gives us joy. It provides a special occasion to look forward to. It creates bonding. I am grateful we are starting to mold our own this way. I am moved, I am healing, and I am growing up. I feel I am preparing for the future. Traditions are a way to give back to my husband and kids, and perhaps even preparing for memorable moments with my future grandchildren.

Be Faithful. Be Savvy. Be Shalom.



Christina Acosta

About the Author

Christina Acosta

Massage Therapist. Youtuber. Blogger. Christian. Entrepreneur. Wifey and Bonus Mom. Plant Junkie. Cat Lady. Donut Enthusiast.

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