(click on pictures to enlarge)
Easter or Pasqua is a big festival in Italy. It marks the end of Lent which consists of 40 days of prayer, fasting and abstinence. Not that too many lay people take that seriously but the celebration of the end of Lent is a given. It occurs on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox and also celebrates the arrival of spring.
Food as always plays a big part and eggs are a big feature with different regions having their own specialties. The eggs are a symbol of fertility, life and renewal. The Easter bread above, Casiatello, comes from Naples. It has bits of cheese and prosciutto through it and the shape symbolizes the crown of thorns placed on the head of Jesus when he was crucified. Only in Italy! Pizza Pasquale is another light bread with bits of cheese and prosciutto that one only sees at Easter. Colomba (dove) is a very light cake in the shape of a dove with candied peel within and almonds on top. Specialty shops have different types some with chocolate or exotic fruitsall beautifully wrapped to be given as Easter presents. Lamb is traditional on Easter Sunday and here in Rome, it is usually abbachio which is cooked with a garlic and anchovy paste. Lunch features dishes with eggs or lamb. I’m looking forward to seeing what will be served tomorrow for lunch at a Roman friend’s house.
Anyhow, before getting to the Easter Sunday celebration which commemorates the resurrection of Christ, there’s Good Friday which marks his crucifixion. Many churches have a Via Crucis, a procession re-enacting the Stations of the Cross. The biggest one in Rome is presided over by the Pope. It starts at the Colosseum at 9.15pm and goes to the Palatine hill a short distance away. It’s not a procession as such, since there are thousands of pilgrims and only the people involved in the carrying of the cross can actually make their way along the path. I went to it last night and though I couldn’t see much from where I was, it was quite a sight to see so many people gathered in prayer in front of the Colosseum with the full moon rising above and the Pope on a covered podium with a giant cross behind him lit with flaming torches.
And then of course there are the Easter eggs. I have never seen people buying so many Easter eggs as they do here and apparently everyone buys an egg for their dearest and closest. I myself prefer the little mini-eggs but I’m told that the larger ones contain a surprise inside which varies dependig on how high-end the egg is. The largest egg on the left was Eur 88 and though I would love to know what’s inside, I won’t be buying one! So, on that note, Happy Easter to all my readers and I hope you all get an Easter egg tomorrow.