Want to know where the Italian Easter traditions are coming from? Find out as we trace the roots of the most unique Easter celebrations in the world.
The Italians love to celebrate and they probably have the most festive calendar anywhere in the world. Nowhere else will you find as many festivals and reasons to celebrate as the Italians have in their calendar. Amongst the various celebrations is that of Easter and these are probably one of the most unique celebrations in the country. Easter Sunday is an important day for Christians all over the world but the way it is celebrated in Italy is at times unique and at times bizarre.
There is a great regional variation in the way Easter Sunday is celebrated in the country. Easter Sunday in Firenze is probably the most unique experience especially for non-Italians to witness. The Easter celebrations in Firenze can be traced back to the pagan times with the remnants of the ancient rites of spring still embedded in the culture of the region. The event is known as the Exploding of the Cart or Scoppio in the local language. The pagan origins of this method of celebration is linked with the pre-Christian community of farmers that used to dwell there aforetime. They had special fire rituals to inaugurate the season of spring along with which they would hold prayers for a bountiful planting season.
Legend has it…
There are many legends surrounding the lighting of the fire on Easter Sunday. One of them has to do with the legendary first crusade warrior Pazzino de’Pazzi that was regarded as a hero and awarded parts of the Holy Sepulcher. These pieces of stone were used to light the fire during the Holy Week in his hometown and the fire was paraded through the streets of Firenze in memory of the great man and the great event.
From there we find that the fire was transported through the streets in a cart which has now developed the title of Brindellone. This happened on the day that the people were celebrating their patron saint who happens to be John the Baptist.
With the passage of time the cart underwent many modifications and each year the people would see a much grander cart which was both larger in size and fancier in decoration. A man dressed as St. John would throw candies and small treats from atop the cart as they went through the streets. Successive centuries saw many additions to the event such as the enlargement of the Holy Candle and the adding of the burning Catherine wheels along with fireworks.
As time moved on the date was rearranged and fixed on the day of Easter Sunday. Hence the fire rituals of the pagans were replaced by this new and grander way to celebrate the day. The event is celebrated in much the same fashion even today and the fervor of the Italian people remains on high. The celebrations are not only getting grander each year but are also attracting foreign attention because of its uniqueness. This sacred season for the Christians is a time for parties and parades and lots of good food in Italy.