LA PASQUA – Easter in Italy
While doing a little research on the Italians customs and traditions surrounding Easter, we have come across a blog post that could not express better what our thoughts on the subject are. So… click here enjoy the read!
To some, it may be hard to understand how important Easter is for Italians – in fact, it is the second most important religious holidayafter Christmas. From a strictly religious point of view, it is even more important: in fact Easter, the feast dedicated to the resurrection of Christ, is the celebration of the mystery that is at the very root of Christian Faith. Easter for Italians has the same importance of Thanksgiving for Americans.
Carnevale and Easter
The religious celebration of Easter is strictly attached to other traditional and religious events, namely Carnevale and, of course, Lent. Carnevale officially starts in January and lasts up until Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent), the last three days before Lent being especially festive. Carnevale is based upon the celebration of Shrove or “Fat” Tuesday (Martedì Grasso).
Many are probably aware that, during Lent, Catholics give up meat, at least on Fridays. Older church doctrine, however, decreed that Catholics had to give up more than meat for Lent: eggs, milk, and even fats were restricted for the observant. For this reason, the last day before the beginning of Lent became “grasso”, fat, as people would not only feast one last time before a long period of abstinence, but also try to consume all foodstuff and ingredients which were to be banned for the ensuing 40 days. From this, the association of rich desserts and foods eaten on Martedì Grasso, such as frittelle and cakes of various shapes and sizes!
Traditional Easter meals vary from region to region, but eggs and roasted lamb are common elements everywhere. Eggs represent life, fertility, and renewal, all of which are essential symbols of Easter. Dyed eggs grace many Easter tables, and eggs are often found in soups and in a traditional Easter pie (Torta Pasqualina). Roasted lamb, as a symbol of birth and the Shepard, is a traditional main course.
Chocolate bunnies are not common, but beautifully decorated chocolate eggs are a traditional Italian Easter treat and gift! Chocolate eggs are a symbol of Easter even for non religious people. Everybody gets an egg for their dear ones. Most chocolate eggs are industry produced, however, every serious cake shop and bakery produces finely hand made eggs, using the best chocolate available. Inside each egg is hidden a small gift. Or not so small, depending on how luxurious the egg is!
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