1. Besides Christmas, it’s the most important holiday of the year
In fact, some might even argue that Easter is even more important than Christmas. The holiday has religious importance as the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ and therefore the fulfillment of His birth. Even if they aren’t specifically religious, most Italians still embrace this significance and follow the traditional celebrations. Some might even compare Easter’s historical importance in Italy to Thanksgiving in America (and we all know how we feel about Turkey-Day).
2. It’s been a long time coming
Sure, it’s been a year since last Easter, but most Italians (following religious custom), have been anxiously waiting for Easter during the season of Lent, a 40 day period of fasting before Easter. They usually abstain from foods like meat and sugary sweets on certain days, meaning that when Easter finally rolls around, it’s the perfect reason for feasting and celebrating.
3. The celebrations are huge
So your family has an elaborate Easter egg hunt in your backyard? That’s nothing compared with a 24-hour parade or a giant fireworks show in the middle of the city. In most towns and cities throughout Italy, Good Friday – the Friday before Easter – is marked with processions or parades commemorating the death of Christ. And yes, some last up to 24-hours. You might think that a parade is a strange way to commemorate a death. But since Italians believe Christ's death is an essential part of the Easter celebration, to them, a parade is the proper way to commemorate it. Come Sunday though, the celebrations get even bigger. Just take the “Scoppio del Carro” in Florence, a traditional celebration in which a giant cart full of fireworks is lit on fire. Florentine lore says that a good explosion promises good luck for the coming year.
4. It doesn’t just end on Sunday
Sure, we might celebrate Easter Monday by sleeping-in, but in Italy “La Pasquetta” (literally, “Little Easter”) continues the celebration. Many Italians enjoy picnicking with friends or getting out of the city to the country-side. In one town in Umbria, they celebrate by rolling giant blocks of Ruzzola cheese down a hill. Don’t ask us, it’s a thing.
5. And of course, it’s all about the food
So maybe Italians don’t do chocolate Easter bunnies – but when was the last time you finished yours? Instead, they celebrate with elaborately decorated chocolate eggs, usually hollowed out and filled with prizes. The “Colomba di Pasqua” is a dove shaped cake made from almond paste and sugar. For the main course, roast lamb (like this one) takes the center stage.