Pasqua in Italy
The most celebrated holiday in Italy (after Christmas, of course) is Pasqua, the Italian word for “Easter”.
The word “pasqua” is derived from the ecclesiastical Latin word “Pascha,” which in turn comes from the Greek “Pascha” and the Hebrew”Pesah”. Pesah was the holiday which celebrated the liberation of the people of Israel from the slavery in Egypt and coincided with the Christian holiday, it means“Passover.”
Despite the common phrase “Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi” (Christmas with your family, Easter with whoever you want), Easter Sunday is usually spent with family, while Easter Monday, or “Pasquetta” (little Easter), is spent with friends.
The story of the Easter Bunny is thought to have become common in the 17th Century. Rabbits usually give birth to a big litter of babies (called kittens), so they became a symbol of new life.
Legend has it that the Easter Bunny lays, decorates and hides eggs as they are also a symbol of new life. This is why some children might enjoy Easter egg hunts as part of the festival.
While Italy offers many traditional Easter breads, the best-known by far is the Colomba. Similar in taste to the renowned panettone, this dove-shaped loaf, which is also meant to symbolize hope, is a native of northern Italy, but Colomba is made with sweet candied oranges and Italian honey, perfect as a gift or a centerpiece for the Easter table.
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