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Italian Festivals

The Italian Pavilion at Edmonton's Heritage Days, 2002, won first prize for innovation.  Photo copyright of the Heritage Community Foundation, 2002. Festivals are a way in which the Italian community can share aspects of its cultural life with the community at large. In Edmonton there are three main festivals celebrated by the Italian community; the Feast Day of Santa Maria Goretti is a religious festival in honor of the patrona of the church; a great multi-cultural showcase and celebration called Heritage Days; and Giovanni Caboto Day set in the heart of Edmonton's Little Italy.

Because most Italians grow up in a Roman Catholic tradition, saint's days and feast days are very special. Besides celebrating birthdays, many Italians celebrate the feast day of the saint whose name they bear. Girls dressed in folk costume carry a statue of the patrona Santa Maria Goretti during her Feast Day Parade.  Photo courtesy of Rudy Cavaliere.

The feast day of the patrona, Santa Maria Goretti Day, is probably the best-established event celebrated by the Italian community in Edmonton. Besides the Mass and procession, which consists of churchgoers carrying the statue of the saint and singing religious songs around the block, there is a picnic with games for children.

Greased pole climbing contest during Giovanni Caboto Day.  Photo courtesy of Rudy Cavaliere. Established by the Giovanni Caboto Society to promote Italian social values in the heart of the old Italian community in Edmonton, Giovanni Caboto Day is generally celebrated on the last Sunday of June.

It is a family event that draws people from all over Edmonton to partake in good Italian food served by street vendors and the restaurants around Giovanni Caboto Park. Other activities include a citizenship court, contests and sporting events, dancing and other types of entertainment.

Abruzzese Choir performing at Heritage Days, 2002.  Photo copyright of the Heritage Community Foundation, 2002. The Italian community has participated in Edmonton's Heritage Festival since its inception. The National Congress of Italian-Canadians, Edmonton District, has been the organizer of the Italian Pavilion since its incorporation in 1979. This ethnocultural festival, which occurs on the first long weekend in August, has become an opportunity to celebrate Edmonton's cultural diversity.

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