Trip Start Feb 23, 2010
40Trip End Jul 15, 2010
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No Italian Easter would be complete without the traditional bread, called "Colomba Pasquale" (loosely translated, Easter Dove). The dove is, of course, a symbol of peace. One clarification: Colomba bread is not to be confused with Saint Columba, an Irish Benedictine monk, who lived in the 6th century and, perhaps, liked to eat bread. He is not even the patron saint of bakers. That would be Saint Nicholas, who was not Irish (nor even Italian), but who is closely associated with Christmas (Good ol’ St
Our hosts also told us about the blessing of Easter eggs in the church. Eggs that were to be eaten during Easter are brought to church during a special Mass, where they are blessed by the priest. The hard boiled eggs, however, must be peeled because some folks believe that the “blessing” will not pass through the shell of the egg
And speaking of Easter eggs... Another tradition in Italy is the gifting of large chocolate Easter eggs. The eggs are huge – about 12 inches tall – and wrapped in beautiful bright paper. They are sold in every alimentari, pasticceria, and supermercato. We saw people walking along the street carrying these large packages to give to friends and family. The eggs are available in various types of chocolate (milk, white, dark) and are usually hollow, often containing a “surprise” inside. Of course, we bought one of these as well – waiting until the post-Easter sales when they were a quarter of the regular price (remember the budget...).
As many of you know, the Sunday before Easter is known as Palm Sunday. The palms symbolize the glorious entry of Jesus into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. The crowds spread palm branches before Him as He rode into the city on a donkey. In the US and Canada palm branches are blessed by the priest and can be taken home by parishioners to display in their homes in remembrance of Christ’s passion, suffering, crucifixion and resurrection. We attended the Palm Sunday Mass at our local church. To our surprise, instead of palm branches, the priest blessed olive branches – another symbol of peace (just like the dove)
Our dinner hosts also told us of a well-known rhyming Italian proverb that goes something like this: “Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi.” It loosely translates as "Christmas with your relatives, Easter with whomever you want". Of course, we don’t subscribe to this philosophy and we wished that all of our relatives and friends could have shared this experience with us here this year.
“La pace sia con te!”.