The weeks leading up to the long Easter weekend are subdued as people
observe the traditional fasting period of Lent. Just prior to the
weekend of Easter, traditional food fairs take place selling Easter
breads and cakes in preparation for the festivities.
Good Friday (29th
March) brings people to the streets to watch the many parades depicting
the Stations of the Cross: re-enacting Christ's walk to Cavalry Hill
with his cross. The participants of the walk wear costumes of the time
- near the Duomo in Siena is a good place to watch one of these
Easter Saturday (30th
March) sees the priests in the many towns and villages visit local
homes and businesses to bless them for the coming year with holy water.
Easter Eve is celebrated by a midnight mass - the Duomo in Siena starts
filling up from 23.00.
Easter Sunday (31st
March) is time for celebration as this is believed to be the day of the
Resurrection of Jesus. In Italy the celebrations for this day are mixed
with pagan traditions for celebrating the coming of Spring and the
forthcoming harvest. The most famous celebrations on Easter Sunday
(outside of Vatican City) take place in Florence where the Archbishop
is responsible for the "Scoppio del Carro" - the explosion of the cart.
This is a tradition which dates back over 300 years; the Archbishop
fires a 'dove' (electronic) across the square into an ornate cart
packed with fireworks. A big explosion is seen as an indication of a
|Scoppio del Carro, Florence|
Monday or Little Easter, Pasquetta (1st April) is a day for the
Italians to gather together with their family and celebrate with good
food, Easter breads and a special almond cake called La Colomba, which
is shaped like a dove and covered in white icing. On Easter Monday the
town of Tredozio holds the festival Pallio dell'Uovo - the racing of
the eggs, and in Barano d'Ischia a traditional dance called the Festa
della Ndrezzata takes place.
Traditional Easter meals usually contain Lamb and, or eggs although
there are many regional variations. Eggs represent life, fertility and
renewal, all of which are essential symbols of Easter. Eggs are often
found in soups and in a traditional Easter pie (Torta Pasqualina).
Roasted lamb is a symbol of birth and the Shepherd and is a traditional
main course. Dyed eggs are used as decorations and decorated chocolate
eggs are a traditional Easter treat and gift! Chocolate eggs are a
symbol of Easter even for non religious people. Every cake shop
produces their own handmade eggs, inside each egg is hidden a small