Written by Grazia Martienssen
Gooday children, Flyer the seagull here, let me tell you about: Giovanni’s Easter (Pasqua)
Giovanni is a seven-year-old boy who lives in a small mountain village in Italy. It is almost Easter, and nonna (granny) is teaching him all about the local traditions and festivities of Lent and Easter.
What Easter traditions do you have?
Festivities and Fasting:
Giovedi Grasso (fat Thursday) is also the day that the carnival starts. Every year it’s on a different date, but falls on the last Thursday before Ash Wednesday, and continues for six days. During this week, Italy has some of the most entertaining festivals around the world.
Street parties begin, and it resembles a modern-day circus, with fun parades as far as the eyes can see. The carnival ends on Martedi Grasso (Shrove Tuesday), which starts with a feast, where they have more yummy food with all the villagers. Carnevale or in Latin, “Carnem Levare,” traditionally means, “remove the meat.” After the festivities of the carnival, in the olden days, many people gave up meat for the 40 days leading up to Easter. Nowadays, people give up many different things.
Giovanni is very excited and proud as he dressed up and got ready to walk along the parade with his family. He is going to help carry the statues for the carnival.
They walk through the streets with the whole village, his uncles and some of his father’s friends also help carry the statues. Some watch from their balconies, it’s so much fun!
Every day they do something different, some days they sing, other days they play music. His older sister Maria plays the tambourines and is teaching him to play them as well.
Do you play any musical instruments on special occasions?
Ash Wednesday has arrived, and they all go to Mass and receive ashes on their foreheads as it marks the beginning of Lent. She explains to him that the money they save from giving up something for Lent can be used to give to the poor. Giovanni tries his best to give up luxuries.
Do you and your family give up something for lent?
On Good Friday Giovanni and his family go to mass. They have a small ornament of Jesus on the cross. Nonna explains to him all about what happened to Jesus when he went back to heaven. Some of Giovanni’s neighbours dress up as Jesus and his disciples. Before Mass, nonna, his sister Maria, and his mamma prepare a traditional fish dish.
Do you eat fish on Good Friday? Do you go to church on Good Friday?
Maria always reminds her parents, “Natale con I tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi” (Christmas with your family, Easter with anyone you like) before being whisked away by her friends for the long weekend. Giovanni is still young and has to stay with his parents and helps where he can.
Nonna and mamma bake bread in a basket shape, they also boil some eggs and place them in the breadbasket. Giovanni loves helping to shape the dough into a basket and decorating it. He also enjoys carefully placing the eggs in each basket.
On Easter Sunday he gets chocolate Easter eggs as well, and some of the eggs have a little gift inside. Later they go to mass again, and after Mass, he carries a small statue of Jesus or Mary through the village. After that, they go on a picnic lunch. Giovanni really looks forward to eating la Colomba for dessert (sweet bread cake shaped like a dove).
What do you do on Easter day? What’s your favourite part of the day?
Easter Monday (La Pasquetta)
On Easter Monday Giovanni plays games, has raced and has lots of fun. His favourite game is the spoon and egg race. Everyone has a lovely time with lots of laughter. After the games, they celebrate with another picnic lunch at the farm with all the close and extended family.
What do you do on Easter Monday? Do you have any special food?