venerdì 14 aprile 2017

Easter in Italy: traditions in Campania.

Imagine narrow, cobblestoned streets filled with locals donned in period costumes, carrying life-sized replicas of the Madonna and the Christ.  See the tears, hear the shouts and sway to voices raised in song as you walk the reconstructed via Crucis.  Enter a home and inhale the smells of minestra maritata, roasted lamb and artichokes and eye the seductive dove-shaped Colomba di Pasqua.  Sit. Eat.  You are among friends and family.  Welcome to Easter in Italy.  This is Pasqua.

The most celebrated holiday in Italy (after Christmas, of course) is Pasqua, the Italian word for “Easter” whose etymological roots are found in the Greek Pascka and Hebrew Pasach, which mean “Passover.”   And while Pasqua is celebrated throughout Italy, each region, comune and village has its own traditions – deep and rich – to commemorate the death and resurrection of the Christ  In the Eternal City of Rome, just outside the Colosseum, many watch and participate as the Pope leads a procession through the 14 stages of the Passion on Good Friday, reading meditations along the way. 

The region of Campania is no different and would rival any competition in beauty, grace and intensity of its commemoration of Pasqua.La Settimana Santa (“Holy Week”) is marked by a series of processions acting out each phase of the Passion in splendor.  Further south, here in the province of Salerno, smaller, but no less intense in beauty and richness, ceremonies and traditions abound.  In the charming comune of Minori, i Battenti (a group devoted to “The Virgin of the Arch”) hold processions to honor the Madonna as she mourns the loss of her son, the Christ.  In Torchiara, masked residents proceed down the Via Crucis (“the way of the cross”) reenacting key moments of the Passion along the way.  You can hear them singing traditional songs as they head towards the water, where a representation of Christ on the Cross overlooks the Tyrrenhian Sea.  Many say that the ceremonies in the village of Misciano Montoro rival them all.  Here, the citizens perform a reenactment of the final hours of Christ’s life.  Beautifully acted performances complete with period costumes and replicas of villages during the time of Christ bring to life one of the most historically and religiously significant events to have occurred in the last two millenia.  

Witnessing Pasqua in Italy through the heart and soul of Italians is a deeply moving experience that reminds us all of the grace we have while living la dolce vita.

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