Memories of Easter in Abruzzo

A well-known proverb says "Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi" (=Christmas with your family, Easter with whoever you want), but actually also the Easter holidays are lived in large part in the family.

The Easter traditions are deeply linked to religious rites, which have become rooted over the centuries also in some peasant, seasonal and agricultural traditions, largely connected to food and suggestive gastronomic traditions, such as the Easter "horse" for the boys and the "doll" for the girls. And these traditions crossed oceans and mountains, wherever in the world emigration brought Italian families.

Easter memories - Phil Fosco

I have vivid memories about the Easter traditions of my hometown, Orsogna, a small town in the province of Chieti. Our parents, with little or no income at all, always managed to bake us a special cake for Easter. The boys would get the cake in the shape of a horse and the girls would receive one in the shape of a doll wearing the folkloristic dress of our region. It was a simple mixture of ingredients: flour, chopped almonds, sugar and eggs.

I remember mom shaping the horse with all the details, mouth, eyes, ears, tail and a braided rope from the mouth to the saddle. The entire cake would have white icing and was sprinkled with a multicolor confetti and the saddle would be of a chocolate color. The cake was given to us to consume as we wished. I couldn't wait to go home from school and break a piece of it and eat it sitting down so I could savor every piece and make sure that I would not drop any of the little confetti.

Mom is gone for many years, but if I close my eyes an tilt my head back, I can still recapture that forever missed cake.

Happy Easter to all!

How we celebrated Easter in Italy - Bianca I. Johnson

In my house - as in many others I believe - when I was a child my mother would make me a sweet bread called "La signora" because it was the shape of a lady and using two colored eggs for the breasts (hard boiled). For the boys it was the Cavallo (the horse) obviously that name because it was in the shape of a horse.

The last week or so before Easter in Ofena you could smell the sweet aroma of the cakes and cookies, my mom would make trays and trays of cookies there was an oven that all used in the all the ladies would bring their sweets to be cooked there there would be many trays of biscotti, pan di Spagna (similar but much better than angel food cake that the ladies would fill with a filling like the boson creme pies and rum plenty of rum) Of course for Easter Sunday we would have a leg of lamb, tagliatelle salad, and various contorni(side dishes). As done on Christmas so was at Easter.

The children would write "letterine di Pasqua" at school for aunts uncles moms and dads. These letters we placed under the persons plate so that when they would get done with the meal they would find the nices little letter about Easter etc. this in turn would receive a gift of money "cento lire mille lire" depending on the person and what they could afford. Of course the Easter eggs filled with different little trinkets were also given to the children.

Lovers would also give each other the Easter eggs (chocolate hollow in the middle, and of course more extravagant then the children's, with sometimes bigger gifts inside the egg. and usually sitting in a keepsake type of container.) I can still recall the aroma of all the wonderful foods my mom cooked and served us. I remember the beautiful yellow dress with white polka dots my mom got me the last Easter in Italy with white patent leather shoes, even though I really wanted red shoes (I never received a pair of red shoes I guess at 52 I still wish Id gotten a pair of red patent leather shoes).

The Sunday before Easter (Palm Sunday) it was a custom that if you had a special friend you could give the blessed palm to each other and become "commare" like each others "godmother"? My mom made many commare that way and they were as respecful of each other as true family.

Im sure Im forgetting a lot of things or maybe remembering things not as perfect for I am 52 now. Oh yes I just recalled one Easter when my grandmother was still alive I was all dressed up to go to church and walking down Via Corso Italia in Ofena from a distance I could see a woman with a long dress as she got close to me I saw who she was (A zingara) gypsy to those that do not know Italian. You have never seen a child run so quickly as I. I ran up the stairs to our terrace where I found my nonna, sitting in her favorite chair I ran to her and hid under her dress (nonna wore the old fashioned long dresses) and needless to say that Easter I did not attend church. You see these gypsies were known to take children. Many would come around asking for oil etc. and if you did not give it to them they would put a curse on you or worse so you learned to avoid them.

Well that's my story. Next year I may remember others. One last thought. I think of Easter and I imagine my mother Madonna Carmela busily making the sauce and I see her with her pasta machine on the kitchen table making the tagliatelle. She is very much missed by her children that are left here. My brother Tony is fortunate to be with her now. You know he did for his family everything my mom and dad did for us. He too is missed by all his family but we know he is enjoying this Easter with my mother and my father Pasquale.

Buona Pasqua a tutti!