Happy Easter! Or should we say ‘Wesołych Świąt Wielkanocnych’; ‘Frohe Ostern’ or ‘Pasg Hapus.’ That’s Happy Easter in Polish, German and Welsh. Or, as we say in Italy, ‘buona Pasqua.’
What does Easter mean to you? No matter what language you speak or what customs you observe, there are Easter traditions around the world to enjoy. In Italy, we have several Easter habits that we love to enjoy, from savouring a very special cake shaped like a dove to tucking into a chocolate egg (enjoying chocolate and cake is something that we share with people all over the world!). Of course, many Italians also celebrate the season by attending religious services and observing the spiritual aspect of the holiday. Read on and discover more about how we enjoy Easter in Italy and remember, it’s never too late to adopt a new tradition – so perhaps you’ll enjoy Easter with a touch of Italian style this year.
When it comes to annual holidays, Easter comes second only to Christmas for Italians. We call Easter Monday ‘Pasquetta’ (Little Easter) or ‘Lunedì dell’Angelo’ (Angel’s Monday). We also have a saying that speaks volumes about how we like to celebrate this time of the year – ‘Natale con i tuoi. Pasqua con chi vuoi.’ Translated into English, this roughly means: ‘Christmas with your family. Easter with whoever you want.’
We tend to spend Easter Sunday with family if they live locally, but Pasquetta is a time to meet up with friends, perhaps packing a picnic basket if the weather is good enough to enjoy eating al fresco. A light, fresh and flavourful addition to any picnic basket is Prosciutto di San Daniele, which we like to eat straight from the plate or wrapped around a grissino (break stick). Don’t forget to pack a bottle of good wine and perhaps some leftovers from Easter Sunday lunch, as well as a hollow chocolate egg and some real free range hard-boiled ones.
Many people in Italy, especially those who live in the smaller towns, will take part in Good Friday processions and religious parades. These are a great way to observe the religious aspects of Easter while bringing the whole town together and out onto the streets to celebrate. If you are ever lucky enough to visit an Italian town or village on Good Friday, you may see a statue of Jesus or the Virgin Mary being carried through the lanes – it’s all part of the tradition.
And, of course, Easter marks the end of Lent, so those who have given up treats such as chocolate and cakes during the forty days of Lent will be looking forward to feasting on food and enjoying themselves with laughter and perhaps some good wine too.
When it comes to sweet treats, it seems that every country has its own version of a traditionally rich cake or bun to enjoy at this time of year. Different nationalities may celebrate in different ways, but one thing that’s largely agreed on is the importance of cake! In Ireland and the UK, many people enjoy a light fruit Simnel cake, topped with marzipan, while in Mexico a type of bread pudding known as a Capirotada or Capirotada de vigilia is often served on Good Friday.
In Italy the tradition is to bake or buy a cake called a colomba di Pasqua. Translated into English you would call it an Easter Dove cake, as colomba is the Italian for dove. It’s shaped like a dove (more or less, although some people might disagree about its avian outline!) and just as panettone is synonymous with Christmas in Italy, it wouldn’t be Easter without colomba di Pasqua. Made from dough containing flour, eggs, sugar, butter and natural yeast, it’s often filled with candied peel and always topped with sugar balls and almonds.
Easter in Europe also signals the beginning of spring, so we like to start thinking about lighter meals, such as the Ceps Strachino with Prosciutto di San Daniele that Michelin starred chef, Angela Hartnett MBE, created especially for Prosciutto di San Daniele. You can find that delicious recipe here and check out the rest of Angela’s recipes for Prosciutto di San Daniele, including brunch-favourite, Fried Eggs with Prosciutto di San Daniele and White Truffle, and the perfect-for-summer Prosciutto di San Daniele Pear and Mackerel Salad, by following our Facebook page here.
Buona Pasqua a tutti!