Buona Pasqua – The Tradition Of Easter In Italy
Easter is a special time in Italy and it’s the second most important religious holiday behind Christmas for most Italians. According to the Nicean Council (A.D. 325) Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox (if the first full moon also rose on a Sunday, Easter is celebrated the Sunday after that). Now that we got the timing correct, let’s talk about how Italians celebrate Easter.
Quaresima or Lent marks the forty days of fast and abstinence prior to Easter. Important days during Lent include Feast of St. Joseph or Festa di San Giuseppe on March 19th and Palm Sunday or Domencia della Palme where palms and even olive branches are blessed by a priest and handed out to churchgoers. In the smaller villages, it’s common place for priests to visit parishioners homes and give an Easter Blessing. Good Friday or Venerdi’ Santo is symbolized with a ritual washing of the feet during church service.
On Easter Sunday no other town celebrates as loudly as Florence where a massive bang is set off according to the three hundred year old tradition of the “explosion of the carte or Scoppio del Carro which has its roots in the pagan ritual of ensuring a good harvest and luck.
Traditional Easter foods differ from province to province, but eggs (for coloring and for eating in soups and pies) and roasted lamb are fairly common, as are goat, artichokes, and special Easter breads such as Pupa con l’uova (Italian Easter bread). Some variant of Easter pie or Torta Pasqualina is also a customary food throughout Italy. Pannetone, Colomba (sort of dove shaped) and Cuzzupe (eggs wrapped in dough) breads are often given as gifts. For children, hollow chocolate eggs are usually presented with gifts and/or surprises inside (chocolate bunnies are not common).
Finally, Easter Monday or La Pasquetta is also a holiday in Italy where families spend the day relaxing and enjoying the outdoors usually followed by a picnic.