Eggs, Cakes and Fireworks—Celebrate Easter Like an Italian

As one of the most important religious holidays observed in Italy, Easter carries rich traditions for the Italian people. From parades, to passion plays, to religious ceremonies, to special foods, Italy’s Easter customs marry religious devotion and fun celebration. At Diforti, we love sharing our passion for Italian culture through our food gifts, fine Italian wines and authentic recipes, and we think Easter is the perfect time to bring Italian traditions to life wherever we are. Read on to learn about time-honoured Italian Easter traditions, and how you can celebrate Easter like an Italian, from experts in Italian food and culture.

Holy Week Celebrations

 You may or may not know that Easter’s celebration is not limited to just one Sunday—in fact, the entire week leading up to Easter is considered holy. On Palm Sunday, one week before Easter, palm leaves or olive tree branches are gathered and positioned carefully outside of houses. In Rome, the pope says mass, processes with palms and blesses the people attending the ceremony.

Good Friday, the Friday before Easter, is the most solemn day of the year. The occasion is typically marked by Stations of the Cross processions; many towns have their own special traditions surrounding these processions. In the town of San Marco in Lamis, Good Friday is commemorated by a ceremony in which massive tree trunks are set on fire. The burning wood acts as torch for a procession in which a statue of Mary is carried throughout the streets. In Palermo, the Stations of the Cross are acted out as passion plays. The participants dress as religious figures, with thousands of people attending the event.

Easter Sunday Food and Festivities

 Holy Week culminates on Easter Sunday, when religious Italians celebrate the resurrection by attending mass and feasting with their families. Some villages even have special ceremonies on Easter Sunday. Terrasini, a village in Sicily, is home to one such tradition called La Festa degli Schietti. On Easter, the people celebrate the unmarried population of Terrasini by having the town’s bachelors lift a heavy orange tree with extravagant decorations, all in hopes of impressing the ladies. This ceremony is proceeded by fireworks and a lively parade of Sicilian carts.

Lively celebrations like La Festa degli Schietti are accompanied by a delicious Easter lunch. While some traditional foods such as lamb and painted hard-boiled eggs are found in Easter celebrations in other countries, there are also dishes that are quintessentially Italian. Casatiello, a special Easter bread traditionally made in Naples, is stuffed with cured meats, cheeses and hard-boiled eggs. Torta Pasqualina is a puff pastry pie filled with ricotta cheese and greens. Easter dishes in Italy focus on using seasonal springtime ingredients for maximum flavour.

Sweets are also a big part of the holiday. Chocolate eggs are popular on Easter in Italy, particularly among children. These chocolate eggs can be quite extravagant, wrapped in decorative foil and sometimes hollowed out with tiny toys inside. Cakes find their way to the Italian table, too. Like many traditions in Italy, Easter cakes are often specialised by region. For instance, schiacciata alla fiorentina is cake from Florence that is traditionally made with lard and flavoured with orange, while colomba is a dove-shaped cake from Milan made with almonds, candied fruit and yeast.

Easter traditions in Italy focus on religious piety, but they are also a celebration of community and delicious food. Bring some Italian influence to your table this Easter by trying out a traditional recipe, or by including one of our Italian food hampers, like the Classic Antipasti Selection, in your Sunday spread. Wishing you a Happy Easter from everyone at Diforti!




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