Easter time in Italy: the explosion of traditions.
The majority of traditions and events in Italy is strictly connected to religion. Some holiday times correspond to Catholic celebrations. The biggest ones are Christmas (Natale) and Easter (Pasqua).
For those who don’t know Catholic religion, Easter day varies year by year. For example Easter is on 1st April this year. It depends on lunar cycle, but in the past it was established a mathematical rule for the computation. This rule is based on the epact computation.
Before Easter day there’s a period called Lent, lasting 40 days. The same number of days Jesus spent in the desert suffering the evil tentations after the baptism in the Jordan. Besides different events lasted 40 days both in the Old and in the New Testament of the Bible.
Lent starts on Ash Wednesday, that is the 1st day after the last Carnival day and the day before the 1st Lent Sunday. Lent is in opposition to frisky period of Carnival, where parties and fun are the themes. For worshippers Lent is a period in which they do penance. Generally Catholic people use to eat no meat in memory of the Passion of Christ on Fridays.
From Ash Wednesday on we have 4 Sundays of Lent. The last Sunday before Easter Catholics celebrate Palm Sunday. It refers to the moment when Jesus go into Jerusalem in the saddle of a donkey and the crowd greeted him shaking Palm branches. Palm Sunday is not the end of the Lent, but this period ends on Holy Thursday.
The Holy Week
By Palm Sunday starts the Holy Week.
Holy Week includes 4 rituals:
- on Holy Thursday Catholics remember foot washing done by Jesus;
- on Good Friday it takes place Via Crucis to commemorate the passion of Jesus;
- on Holy Saturday in the churches you can partecipate to the wake. Jesus is dead and Catholics keep vigil over him;
- then on Sunday we celebrate Jesus resurrection.
Easter traditions in Italy
As every festivity each part of Italy has its own traditions. Not every places celebrate Easter time in the same way. You can find strong traditions connected to Easter above all in the South. Some towns and cities are famous for processions taking place on Good Friday because of their representation.
We have already talked about Easter traditions on Italian Storytellers.
In Veneto, to be more precise in the village of Gallio, on Good Friday the inhabitans celebrate the day of dark. In Lombardy, the homeland of the typical Easter cake, there are many celebrations for Easter time. Umbria is the place where to attend to the race of the Risen Christ or the Rinchinata, dating back to the past. Valle d’Aosta seems to be lesser Catholic than other Italian regions. In fact Easter time is dedicated to sport events. Sardinia, where traditions are deeply felt, is at the opposite side of Valle d’Aosta, because each Catholic festivity has its own traditions. We also talked about Rome, the seat of the Pope, where processions are the biggest in Italy for the number of people who take part to them.