As you prepare for Easter this weekend, you may wonder just how authentic your Italian celebrations really are. We’re here to bring you the similarities and differences between Easter in the United States and in Italy.
Although Italians say “Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi” (Christmas with family, Easter with whoever you like), Italians still generally celebrate Easter with family and Pasquetta with friends.
Around Easter you can also find Colomba di Pasqua or Easter dove cake in every Italian pastry shop. Similar to panettone, but without raisins, colomba is shaped like a dove and coated with almonds and pearled sugar.
Pasquetta or Easter Monday is a popular picnic holiday in Italy. Italians take advantage of the warm weather and plan outings with friends.
Traditions by region
Tuscany: Florence’s Scoppio del Carro (Explosion of the Cart) occurs Easter morning when an antique cart filled with fireworks is hauled by a team of white oxen through the city streets. The event dates back to the 15th century.
Veneto: Fugassa veneta is a traditional Easter cake served in the Veneto region- it’s the sister cake to the colomba.
Lazio: I laziali (persons from Lazio) prepare their pizza rustica with cinnamon and cottage cheese.
Campania: Pastiera napoletana are served with seven ingredients: flour, corn, eggs, cottage cheese, sugar, citron and orange water.
Calabria: Puppets representing the apostles and the Madonna are carried through the town.
Sicily: On Good Friday, a procession called I Misteri di Trapani takes place in the Sicilian coastal town of Trapani. Twenty representations of the Christ’s Passion are carried through the streets of the town for anywhere between 16-24 continuous hours. The custom dates back to 1612.
Traditional Easter recipes seem to cross continents. While specific ingredients may vary, general concepts remain the same. A meal prepared with or including eggs is a common Easter staple.
Common Easter foods:
Frittata served with spring vegetables, cheese, sausage or ham.
Pizza Rustica Pie: La pizza rustica is an Easter staple in many Italian-American families and is popular throughout Italy, especially in Campania and Sicily. The rustic pie traditionally consists of a pie crust filled with a variety of dried meats and cheeses.
Easter Bread (with hard-boiled eggs): This sweet bread is traditionally made in a braid or wreath, wrapping colored hard-boiled eggs inside the dough. Here’s a video of Lidia Bastianich making Easter breads with her family.
How are you celebrating Pasqua this year?
Auguri di Buona Pasqua!
Want to sound like an Italian during Holy Week? Here’s some vocabulary words to get you started!
Italian Easter Vocabulary
- Buona Pasqua= Happy Easter
- L’agnello= Lamb
- Il conigliettoo= Bunny Rabbit
- La Crocifissioneo= Crucifixion
- La paceo= Peace
- Le uovao= Eggs
- La Pasquettao= Easter Monday
- Uovo di pasquao= Easter Eggs
- La primaverao= Spring
- La Resurrezioneo= Resurrection
- La Settimana Santao= Holy Week
- L’Ultima Cenao= The Last Supper
- Venerdi Santoo= Holy Friday