The Start of Lent

IMG_2014030744111Its a beautiful sunny day here today and around 18C with lots of spring flowers in bloom as you can see above. A welcome change after a slightly wet week with cooler temperatures but quite a week. There were Carnival events at the weekend, on Monday, an Italian movie won an Oscar creating a stir, Tuesday was Martedi Grasso (pancake Tuesday) and Wednesday was Ash Wednesday marking the start of Lent or Quaresima as it’s called here. In the past month, shops have been selling carnival costumes (similar to what we see in the shops at Halloween in Canada) and little kids have been walking around all dressed up. 1394212227148I kept seeing what we call confetti (known as coriandoli here) in the streets and thought that there must have been a lot of weddings taking place but here they throw rice at weddings and coriandoli at Carnival.

 Incidentally, confetti here are those sugar coated almonds. A small town called Sulmona in the mountains in Arezzo is noted for making them and each shop there vies for a superior display by arranging them in the shapes of different flowers. They are usually given to guests at baptisms and weddings.1394212397831

¬†Anyhow, Martedi Grasso is traditionally the last day for feasting so there are parties and various celebrations. I had a choir practice that evening and to my surprise, after we were done, our choir leader produced bottles of sparkling wine and little snacks and pastries including those sheets of fried or baked dough sprinkled with icing sugar called chiacchiere or castagnole which are only made before Lent. On Ash Wednesday, the Pope traditionally leads a penitential procession on Aventine Hill from the Basilica of San Anselmo to the Basilica of Santa Sabina, where he says Mass and gives a homily. I didn’t go to this but on TV they showed Papa Francesco during the homily, facing a couple of pews of Cardinals saying “When I see in everyday life some power struggles to take up space, I think: ‘These people are playing God the Creator’. They still have not realized they are not God”. He certainly takes the bull by the horns. We all know that power struggles in the Vatican are not new, so I guess not everybody approves of his way of doing things.



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