Holy Eggs! It’s Easter in Italy

Apr 19, 2014

Is Italian Easter much different from Easter back home? Si!

One of my favorite things about Easter in Italy is the blessing of the eggs. People bring baskets of uncolored or dyed eggs to Easter Sunday mass, where they are placed around the alter and blessed by the priest. These “holy eggs” are then eaten as a start to Easter lunch, either plain with salt or in a bowl of hot broth. I’m not Catholic, but I love adopting new traditions and see them as great learning opportunities for my son.

Giovanni Easter

Giovanni bringing our Easter eggs to receive their blessing at Sunday mass

While eggs are a part of Italian Easter tradition, rabbits aren’t! Can you believe there’s no Easter bunny in Italy? Instead of getting Easter baskets or searching for hidden candy, Italian children get large, hollow chocolate eggs wrapped in colorful paper. Each egg has a surprise inside (usually a small toy), however, you can also get custom eggs made and choose the prize yourself. Some Italians have even decided to propose this way, hiding an engagement ring inside the chocolate!

Another thing I like about celebrating Easter the Italian way is summed up in the typical saying: “Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi” (Christmas with you family, Easter with whomever you want). Every year, I meet a big group of friends and their children at the Tuscan seaside for a long weekend of warm weather, good food and fun. Last year we went to Bolgheri, and this year we’re giving Lerici a try (not quite as stunning as our Me + Mom Women’s retreat / children’s summer camp location, but that’s hard to beat!). Most Italians follow suit and head off to the beach or mountains for Easter weekend, or at least for “Pasquetta” (Little Easter), Italy’s Easter Monday. This day is a national holiday, and is best celebrated with an “al fresco” (in the open air) picnic of leftovers from the day before.

Typical Italian Easter fare includes lamb as the main course; stuffed pasta or lasagna; and seasonal vegetables like artichokes, spinach, or fava beans as side dishes. The most popular Easter dessert is the “Colomba” (dove), a dove-shaped sweetbread with candied fruit and almonds. But all Italian regions have their owns specialties – and even their own traditional celebrations. For example, In Florence, a good harvest and luck for the year is ensured by “lo scoppio del carro” (the explosion of the cart). The ceremony takes place every year outside the city’s largest church, the Duomo, where a model dove detonates an over 350-year-old carriage for a 20-minute show of whistling fireworks.

scoppio del carro

Lo scoppio del carro (the explosion of the cart), an Easter tradition in Florence, Italy

It’s pretty strange but very fun to watch.

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