It seems that after Christmas people around the world are constantly celebrating all sorts of different holidays. With the passing of St. Patrick’s Day and the beginning of spring, the next holiday that is celebrated throughout the world is Easter!
While Easter is celebrated in many ways, depending on the country, the most well known reason for celebration branches from the Christian faith. Easter Sunday is recognized as the day that Jesus Christ was resurrected from his tomb and is held as the most cherished day for what this represents: His life, death and resurrection. This holiday is especially treasured in Italy.
In Italy Easter, also known as Pasqua, is considered even a bigger holiday than Christmas. People all around the country spend the week’s prior in preparation for the sacred holiday. All throughout the country, the cities and towns all celebrate with different holy representations, processions, festivals, food fairs, and the tradition of performing the Passion of the Christ.
While in the U.S. Easter is celebrated solely on Easter Sunday, Italy celebrates the Holy Week. Their holiday begins on the Thursday before Easter and it continues until the following Monday. Holy Week consists of several important events including Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Black Saturday, Easter Sunday, and Easter Monday.
Italy takes more of a somber approach for the first part of the holiday. During Maundy Thursday people dedicate the evening to going to mass and then having a Eucharistic Feast, which is a representation of The Last Supper.
Good Friday is when the more emotional festivities are usually held. One of the most popular celebrated events is the over 3,000 different Passion of the Christ plays reenacted in cities all over the country.
On Good Friday is when the largest and most attended mass is held at St. Peter’s Basilica by the il Papa (the Pope).
The Pope celebrates Good Friday with the Via Crucis or Stations of the Cross in Rome near the Colosseum.
This event is displayed with an elaborate burning cross that is carried between different stations and as it lights the sky the event is described in several languages.
During the day, Black Saturday is known for being a “quiet” day. Most Italians will spend this time at home with family or preparing food for Easter. Then at midnight on Black Saturday the churches around the country sound the bells as a way of proclaiming the Resurrection.
Then on Easter Sunday people fill the streets to celebrate with religious processions and parades. People are often dressed in traditional costumes and they carry olive branches along with palm fronds to be used as decoration in churches.
Easter Monday, also known as Pasquetta meaning little Easter, is a national holiday in Italy.
This is generally dedicated to spending time with family and friends away from the house to celebrate the discovery that Jesus is no longer in his grave.
As you celebrate Easter this year, do as the Italians do and have a Buona Pasqua!