Easter,  Holiday,  Travel

How to Celebrate Italian Easter Traditions from a Socially Safe Distance

This week, Italians will arrive at their first major holiday under lockdown. They will be presented with a unique opportunity to conquer COVID by keeping their Easter traditions. Given the forza Italy has shown over the past month (lest we not forget the balcony concerts), we are certain that they will also be making the best of the holiday by celebrating old traditions in new ways. And how exactly can we be sure…

Enter Tanya! Tanya, a Well Traveled consultant, Italian, and local of Florence has laid out exactly how she plans to keep the Easter traditions of her family and country from her flat.

Because there can be no Easter without Good Friday, we’ll start there. Tanya plans to cook herself a traditional fish dinner on Good Friday, a day in which Catholics typically fast and abstain from red meat. For a manual to old-school-Italian Good Friday meals, check out Emiko Davies guide and recipes (including fish) here.

Emiko Davies, “A 19th century lunch for Good Friday.”

After Good Friday, we have one more day of waiting – Holy Saturday. This year, Tanya plans to observe the holy day by tuning into a live stream of the seldom-seen Shroud of Turin. The Shroud is believed by many to be the burial cloth of Jesus – a cherished relic housed in the cathedral of Turin. Religious or not, the live stream is an historic event as the exceptionally delicate artifact is rarely accessible to the public (last displayed in 2015). Camera closeups and the absence of guards shuffling you through a line make this Holy Saturday an especially great opportunity to view the Shroud. The live stream will begin at 5 PM local time on Saturday. For more information on how to tune in click here.

Perhaps the biggest change for Tanya, and many Italians, this year will be the inability to attend mass on Easter Sunday morning in a church. Luckily, all things are possible through God and the internet – where Tanya plans to live stream Pope Francis’ Easter Sunday mass at the Vatican. For the Vatican’s Holy Week streaming schedule click here and for the Vatican YouTube channel (yes, the Vatican has a YouTube channel) where masses can be viewed click here.

Easter evening, Tanya will settle in with yet another live stream – Andrea Boccelli’s concert in the empty Milan Cathedral. The concert can be viewed on Bocelli’s YouTube channel (yes, he has one too) at 7 PM Italy time.

Between live streams Tanya will make time for the most important Italian tradition – family. She’ll video chat with her parents, only a train ride away in Lazio and her sister in Toronto.

Beacause Italians need a recovery day after Easter revelries, they invented Pasquetta (or little Easter) celebrated on Monday. Italians take the day off of work for more time with family and food.

One longstanding (but often rain checked) tradition is a picnic fuori porta. Well this year a perfectly sunny Pasquetta forecast is teasing a locked down Tanya and her fellow Florentines. However, Tanya and her friends refuse to let the circumstances ruin the tradition. Tanya and her girlfriends will video chat while picnicking fuori in balcone Monday afternoon.

Sure there may be no exploding cart of fireworks this year (maybe for the best) or parades of men in tights, but we have no doubt that Italians will not let this pandemic temper their holiday spirit. Instead, they are streaming and sharing traditions – giving us access to their world like never before.

As Tanya so beautifully expressed to me, this Easter is all about radical acceptance and gratitude for being alive. Let this Easter bring a suffering world together unlike ever before.

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