Easter or Pasqua, how it is commonly known in Italy, is one of the most important Italian holidays. Religious parades and celebrations are held in many towns and cities nationwide. A statue of Jesus or his mother Mary is often carried in street processions where the whole community comes to watch or get involved.
We were lucky enough to sample a Colomba di Pasqua in the office this afternoon. Which is a delicate Italian cake/bread shaped to look like a Dove. The bread is very similar to that of the Christmas Panettone. Traditionally the Colomba should be topped with sugar crystals and almonds however in modern day there are many variations of this popular cake. The one we got to try, for example, was topped with chocolate and filled with Limoncello, bellissimo!
The Dove represents peace and prosperity within the family and the week before Easter Sunday (Palm Sunday) everyone in the community goes and collects olive branches and takes them to the Priest to be blessed ready for the coming year. The branches are also a symbol of peace and they represent the palm branches the crowd scattered in front of Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem. Palm Sunday commemorates the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem, when palm branches were placed in his path, before his arrest on Holy Thursday and his crucifixion on Good Friday. It thus marks the beginning of Holy Week, the final week of Lent.
In Italy, Easter Sunday is a nationally observed holiday, but the Monday immediately after is also a national holiday, called Pasquetta (literally “Little Easter”) or Lunedì dell’Angelo (Angel’s Monday). Commonly on Pasquetta people tend to go out and enjoy themselves. There is a famous saying in Italy: “Natale con i tuoi. Pasqua con chi vuoi.” In English: “Christmas with your family. Easter with whomever you like.” This means that many younger members of the family chose to go on holidays, roadtrips or days out with their friends.
Where will you chose to spend your Easter holidays this year?