Easter traditions in Southern Italy

The Easter traditions in Southern Italy is characterized by the presence of numerous rites that, in the South of Italy, preserve deep and remote ties with ancient traditions. From Campania to Sicily, in fact, pilgrimages, processions and ancient and sometimes bloody rituals mark the days of Holy Week recalling and representing the death and resurrection of Christ.

Fonte: Rete Italiana di Cultura Popolare

An aspect common to the rites of Easter in the South are i  “Mysteries“, representations rhythmic funeral marches and beating sounds, and rituals of mortification of the flesh, experienced directly by believers, that go to join the symbols of the Passion of Christ. Another is related to the sowing of wheat, the grains of which are placed in bowls in the churches to sprout.

Easter in Southern Italy, traditions

  • In Calitri, in Campania, on Good Friday the faithful dressed in white, hooded and crowned with spine  carry on their shoulders the cross on the hill of Calvary. At Procida, the Procession of the 12 Apostles that runs through the streets of the island carrying the cross and wearing a crown of thorns, and then participate in the Last Supper.
Fonte: Touring Club Italiano

Procida is the smallest of the Flegree Islands, and also the most characteristic and least touristy, whose coasts are protected by the maritime area “Kingdom of Neptune”. Â Of great charm is the spontaneous architecture of its villages, first of all that of Terra Murata, and the islet of Vivara, with the remains of a Mycenaean village.

  • In Puglia, in San Marco in Lamis, there is the procession of the “Fracchie“,  huge torches & nbsp; cone-shaped with the image of Our Lady of Sorrows, a  Troia there & nbsp; the Procession of the Chains: Men with a white habit carry a heavy wooden cross on their shoulders, their feet bound by chains.
Fonte: L’Immediato

San Marco in Lamis, along the “Via Sacra Longobardorum”, is distinguished by the two sanctuaries of San Matteo Apostolo and Santa Maria di Stignano, and the presence of the nearby Castel Pagano. It is particularly known for the Dinosaur Paleontological Museum, in Borgo Celano, where dinosaur footprints dating back over 100 million years are visible.  

  • In Barile, in  Basilicata, in the procession of the Way of the Cross, Christ is represented by a young man who will first have to fast and atone for his sins, and then be washed, oiled and dressed by female hands. Hundreds of people in costume represent the Passion, flanked by “pagan” characters. The Procession of the Mysteries of Montescaglioso is animated by the “Mamuni”, hooded carrying a crown of thorns.   
Fonte: Francesca Sciarra
  • In Montescaglioso, known for the Carnival, the Abbey of San Michele Arcangelo and the Chiesa Madre and, above all, the rock churches of the Murgia Materana Park, including the Sanctuary of the Madonna della Murgia with the splendid fresco of the Virgin and Child and the necropolis excavated in the tuff. 
Fonte: Si Viaggia
  • In Sicily, In San Cataldo, on Good Friday, the Trial of Jesus takes place, and then the Procession of the Vare. At Easter, papier-mâché statues with a colorful cloak, the “Sampauluni”, take part in the rite of the Encounter. In Prizzi, there is the “Abballi de li diavuli”: young demons dressed in red roam around to “capture” souls, helped by the “Death”. The rite of the “Mysteries” of Trapani, is the longest religious event in Italy: it lasts from 14 hours on Good Friday for 24 hours.
Fonte: Sicilia in Rete

Trapani has a lovely old town, with the tower of the Palazzo della Giudecca, the Palazzo Burgio, the Palazzo Vescovile, the Lazzaretto and the elegant noble palaces. But also with the Tower of Ligny, with the nearby terrace overlooking the sea, the Castle of the Dovecote and the Castle of Earth, and the sixteenth-century bastions.  

The traditions of Southern Easter are also culinary…let’s discover

Among the Easter culinary traditions in Campania we start from the “fellata”, with mixed cold cuts, ricotta, cheese, eggs, accompanied by “casatiello“.

Fonte: Una pentola per due

Recipe of the Casatiello:

For the dough:

  • 600 grams of flour manitoba
  • 330 grams of water
  • 10 grams of fresh yeast (or 3 grams of dry yeast)
  • 140 gr of soft lard (lard)
  • 10 grams of salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

For the filling:

  • 120 grams of sweet provolone
  • 50 grams of caciocavallo (or scamorza or other cheese with a tasty stringy paste)
  • 120 grams of salami Naples cut into very thin slices or cubes (the original recipe also includes cracklings, if you want to use them inserted 75 grams of salami Naples and 75 grams of cracklings)
  • 50 grams of sweet bacon
  • 40 grams of pecorino cheese
  • 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
Fonte: Ricette della Nonna

The casatiello is prepared with a double leavening dough using 500 gr. of flour, yeast, 150 gr. of lard, 10 gr. of salt and pepper. After the first leavening of two hours, the dough is spread and added pepper, cold cuts in pieces and cheese, then rolled up and put to rise for another two hours, before baking.

The dessert par excellence is the “pastiera”: shortcrust pastry filled with ricotta, baked and candied wheat, flavored with orange blossom water.  

Fonte: Ricordi e Tradizioni
  • Puglia – In Puglia Easter on the table is marked by the “Benedetto”, a dish that combines fried artichokes, sopressata and capocollo, cheese primo sale and orange slices. In some areas of the region, traditional hard-boiled eggs are cooked together with seaweed. Popular are pea soup and baked lamb with potatoes. Typical sweet are the “scarcelle”, large sugary taralli on which eggs are placed held firm by strips of pasta. 
  • Basilicata – The table of the Lucan Easter tradition includes the “pizza cu risi”, whose dough consists of flour, lard, eggs, salt, pepper and rice. It is stuffed with a multitude of ingredients, including salami, hard-boiled eggs, cheese, and traditionally also the remaining parts of the pork shoulder. Typical is also the lamb cooked in the broth of wild thistles. 
Fonte: Giallo Zafferano
  • Sicily – The gastronomy is dominated by fish couscous, inherited from the Arab culture, and the “pesto trapanese”, a condiment for pasta made with oil, basil, tomato, almonds, pecorino cheese and garlic.
Fonte: Chezuppa!
  •  In Sicily tradition offers the “lambs” of almond paste. In the province of Caltanissetta the “candlesticks” are prepared, based on eggs, while the “scacciu” are spread everywhere, based on pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts, chickpeas, peanuts and dried figs. Inevitable then the classic cassata. 
Fonte: Primo Chef

Cover Image: Sonia Peronaci

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