Italian Easter Traditions
By: Liz Flynn
After Christmas, Easter is the most celebration to Christian Italians. In Italy, this religious festival is called Pasqua. The celebrations last throughout the entire weekend with various events taking place across the country. There are also some traditions that the Italians follow at Easter and these vary in different areas of Italy.
Northern Italian Food Traditions
Like with all celebrations, food plays an important role at Easter in Italy and there are some dishes that are traditionally made at this time of the year. These differ from one region to the next. In the northern regions of the country, sweet breads are often eaten. Colomba is a bread in the shape of a dove with a glaze made from egg whites topped with sugar and almonds. Pinza Pasquale is a type of sweet bread that is carved with a three-point cross.
Southern Italian Food Traditions
People in southern Italy have their own traditions. They have a savory cake called Casatiello that originates from Naples and contains, salami, eggs, sausage and cheese. Another traditional food is aceddu cu’ l’ova. These are dove-shaped cookies that are given as gifts for good luck.
Eggs are symbolic of Jesus’ tombstone, new life and eternity. They are symbolic items that are used to represent Easter in Italy and many other countries. Children are given hollow chocolate eggs as gifts. A popular activity with children is hard-boiling eggs and then decorating them.
La Festa del Carro
This event has taken place in Florence annually since 1096. It is in commemoration of the safe return of a Florentine knight. He had raised the banner of the Holy Cross during the Crusades in Jerusalem. A procession takes place on Easter Sunday and this features a huge, antique cart pulled along the street by white oxen. People attending this festival usually wear clothes in the style of the 15th-century. A rocket is fired towards a cart loaded with fireworks to set off the boom, called the scoppio in Italian.
Many religious Italian Christians take a pilgrimage to the Vatican City for Easter. They gather at Saint Peter’s Basilica on Good Friday for a mass delivered by the Pope. This is followed by a walk led by the Pope to the Colosseum with 14 stops along the way. Pilgrims follow the Pope with torches creating a magical sight.
While Easter Sunday is a solemn religious event that is usually spent with family, Easter Monday is a day that people are free to spend how they wish. Many people celebrate with parties and events take place on this day across the country.