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|Notable Sicilian Americans:
Joe DiMaggio • Jon Bon Jovi • Frank Sinatra
Antonin Scalia • Andrew Cuomo • Lady Gaga
Rachael Ray • Al Pacino • Frank Zappa
Paulie Malignaggi • Dean Martin • Sonny Bono
Joe Montana • Chris Christie • Martin Scorsese
predominantly Roman Catholic
|Related ethnic groups|
Early arrivals and the main immigration
The first Sicilians came to what is now the United States in the seventeenth century as explorers and missionaries. Sicilian emigration to the US then grew substantially in the period starting in the 1880s and in 1906 as many as a 100,000 Sicilians came to the US. By 1924, immigration restrictions had caused this to plummet. This period saw political and economic shifts in Sicily that made emigration desirable. A great portion of the Sicilian immigrants would settle in New York, Buffalo, Tampa, New Jersey, Chicago, Boston, Detroit, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New Orleans and Milwaukee.
Elements of Sicilian culture came with them, such as theatre and music. Giovanni De Rosalia was a noted Sicilian American playwright in the early period and farce was popular in several Sicilian dominated theatres. In music Sicilian Americans would be linked, to some extent, to jazz. Many of the more popular cities for Sicilian immigrants, like New Orleans or Chicago, are pivotal in the history of jazz. In Chicago the predominately Sicilian neighborhood was called "Little Sicily" and in New Orleans it was "Little Palermo." One of the earliest, and among the most controversial, figures in jazz was Nick LaRocca, who was of Sicilian heritage. Modern Sicilian American jazz artists include Bobby Militello and Chuck Mangione.
The Sicilian-American respect for San Giuseppe (St. Joseph) is reflected in the celebration of the Feast of St. Joseph, primarily in New Orleans and Buffalo, every March 19. Many families in those cities prepare a "St. Joseph's Day table", at which relatives or neighbors portray Jesus, Joseph and Mary and oversee the serving of meat-free Lenten meals to the poor of the community. The tables are the vestiges of a Sicilian legend which states that farmers prayed to St. Joseph, promising that if he interceded in a drought, they would share their bounty with the poor. The foods served at such tables include: pasta con sarde (spaghetti with sardines); lenticchie (lentils); and various froscie (omelettes) made with cardoon (wild artichoke), cicoria (dandelion) and other homely vegetables. Desserts include sfinge or zeppoli, a light puff pastry; pignolati (honey balls); and cannoli, a Sicilian creation. One tradition has each guest at a St. Joseph's Day table receiving a slice of orange, a bit of fennel and a fava bean, for good luck.
Sicilian-American immigrants often faced unjust stereotypes and discrimination, often from other Italians. Tensions between Italian regions had not been entirely resolved with unification, and northern Italians had sayings that unjustifiably painted Sicilians as untrustworthy and dishonest. A more persistent stereotype linked Sicilian Americans to the Mafia, and continues to be perpetuated through films such as The Godfather that portray Sicilians in this light. As the Mafia is of Sicilian origin, Sicilian Americans were stereotyped as Mafia-linked to an even greater degree than Italian Americans in general, with the rationalization that the Mafia emerged in Sicily. Despite stereotypic pressures, Sicilian Americans have continued to thrive in the cultural climate of America, with many professionals: physicians, attorneys, intellectuals, actors, directors, musicians, athletes, and politicians of notable prominence.
- Sicilian Confederation of North America
- CSNA 2010
- National Sicilian American Foundation
- Re-inventing Sicily in America
- Every culture.com
- Arba Sicula (A Sicilian American organization) (Sicilian) (English)
- Sicilian American Theater
- Magna GRECE Ethno-cultural journal for people of Southern-Italian descent