Easter in Italia
An Italian Easter is packed with a mix of religious traditions and rituals followed by La Pasqua – a fun, festive time to connect with loved ones – over wonderful Italian vegan feasts of course!
La Settimana Santa
As Easter is the second most important Christian festival after Christmas in Italy, this holiday is a big deal. The week leading up to Easter Sunday is called Holy Week – La Settimana Santa – a time to observe solemn street processions and the religious significance of this festival. Some processions entail the parading of a status of the Virgin Mary, Jesus or a giant cross along the streets, others have participants holding out olive branches. On the beautiful island of Sicily, one procession is rather elaborate and continues around the clock. The oldest procession is in Abruzzo and takes place to the sound of emotionally beautiful violin music.
On Good Friday, there’s the annual opportunity to go to the famous Easter Mass and blessing by The Pope at Saint Peter’s Basilica at 17:00. If you can’t make it to the Vatican City though, do not fret, as Easter Mass is held in every single church across Italy on the same day – albeit without such a prominent figure leading the service!
Once the holy ceremonies have taken place, it’s time for joyful celebrations right across the land. La Pasqua is one weekend of the year when extended families, friends and loved ones get together – al fresco if weather permits – to relax over delicious dishes. There are vegan alternatives to any meat-laden or dairy-heavy ingredients so your Easter can be animal friendly and sustainable – and much more scrumptious and wholesome. If you haven’t switched to a vegan lifestyle yet, then the beginning of spring and the Easter holiday is the perfect time for positive change!
Colomba di Pasqua, the traditional, dove-shaped Italian Easter Sweet Bread is perfect to enjoy with a soy latte in the morning, or can be a light, post-lunch dessert. Make a vegan version by substituting any butter and eggs and customize it to your preferences for dried fruits. It can be rather cumbersome to prepare, so leave enough time for the starter mix of ingredients to work overnight.
Easter spinach pie – torta pasquale – is traditionally made with eggs, ricotta and parmesan – the eggs can be omitted, and cheeses can be swapped for their vegan equivalents to make a lighter, but still incredibly satisfying savoury dish. Butter is easily substituted by plant-based spreads or olive oil.
Other traditional Easter treats include stuffed artichokes – purchase the organic variety for really succulent flavour. Fill them with a tasty mix of rice and vegetables or vegan cheese.
Festive décor and family fun
Make your home spring-like for this Easter holiday with a few pots of bright tulips or narcissus flowers on your dining table, bright ceramic eggs placed on shelving and homemade bunting hanging above a fireplace or from window frames. If you have young kids, get them involved with the decorating session.
Another way to keep children occupied during the long school vacation is by making colourful play dough with them – it’s quick and easy to make yet can keep little ones busy and creative for hours! This is how you make it:
1 cup flour ½ cup salt 1 tsp cream of tartar 1 tbsp oil 1 cup boiling water natural or food colouring (beetroot juice, turmeric powder), optional
Preparing your play dough:
1. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl
2. Add oil, any liquid colouring and boiling water and mix well to form a dough.
3. Now, enjoy forming shapes with your bright play dough!
o To keep measurements simple, use a standard cappuccino-size cup for the flour, salt and water.
o Increase amounts proportionately if more dough is required or if you want to divide it up into different colours.
o Make sure younger children do not add the boiling water themselves.
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