Easter in Italy

Since Italy is a religious country Easter is celebrated everywhere and in different ways, even by the ones who are not religious. I’m sure there are many traditions in whole Italy but in this text I am going to talk about the ones which are famous in my region, Apulia.

Starting from Palm Sunday I can say that people are used to go to church in the morning, especially the masses at 10 am are full of children and parents. The tradition is that people, after the Sunday mass, exchange crosses which are done with palm leaves, to wish peace to the others.

It is known that in this festivity, people who were in conflict before try to solve their issues and gift the other a real small olive tree. Palm Sunday is a day which brings people closer and allow them to make peace with one another.

Concerning Easter, it is a bigger festivity than the Palm Sunday since it marks the resurrection of Jesus. Of course also in this day it is tradition to partecipate to the morning mass. But the biggest traditions have their bases in the italian cuisine. For Easter, as also for Christmas, families are brought together to celebrate this festivity and they have Easter lunch together. It is tradition to eat lamb and hard boiled eggs. Besides, there are two famous sweet dishes that are eaten on Easter: one is almost always handmade, the other one can be bought. The first sweet dish is called “Scarcelle”. It is basically a simple dough made out of flour, eggs, sugar and milk, which gets shaped into Easter-like shapes, for example: a bunny, an egg or a dove. After the baking, the shapes are decorated with sprinkles or chocolate eggs. It is tradition to decorate the “scarcella” with an hard boiled egg at the center to represent the body of Christ.

 

The second sweet dish is calles “Colomba”, which literally translates to “dove”, because it is what it represents. It is an egg based dough, shaped like a dove, baked and finally decorated with white sugar sprinkles and almonds on top.

But the modern symbol of italian Easter is the chocolate egg. It is tradition to gift kids and adults a big chocolate egg with a surprise inside. It can be bought in normal stores or it can be done in a pastry shop and the surprise can be personalized. People have hidden engagement rings in easter eggs as a surprise! Kids (and adults) wait for the Easter time to enjoy their chocolate eggs.

Easter in Belgium

The people in Belgium are celebrating Carnival 40 days before Easter. It’s the last time the Belgians are partying before the period of fasting. Especially the people in Wallonia are walking in big carnival parades and live according to the motto “savoir vivre” (know-how to live).

As in other Catholic countries, the believers abstain 40 days from meat, sweets and even chocolate! For some reasons is the good Friday in Belgium, not a free day, as in many other countries. From this day on, the bells in most parts of Belgium are quiet. Especially on Saturday (“silent Saturday”). There is a history, which says that the bells are flying to Rome to be blessed by the pope.

That’s why you can’t hear any bell in Belgium until Monday. It feels like years have passed when you hear the happy melody again. In some Belgian cities, paper eggs fly down from church steeples on Saturday. The kids have to catch these eggs and the child who gets a golden egg wins a prize. Commonly, the kids color boiled eggs, there are even markets for the most beautiful Easter eggs. On Monday the kids find colored eggs in the gardens or their self-made easter nests out of hay. These gifts were not brought by the Easter bunny, but by the bells that returned from Rome. There are some special Egg hunts in Belgium, in Thumaide, for example, the eggs are dropped by a helicopter.

Like most Belgian celebrations, you spend the Monday with your family. On that day, they eat ham, lamb asparagus, potatoes, pancakes, and sweet bread. Many families are going to church, these churches are decorated with flowers and icons. On these days the kids in Belgium are eating a lot of chocolate. As Belgium is one of the world’s tasting chocolate producers, they have many different kinds of chocolate on Easter. Special for this chocolate is the filling, like hazelnut cream, pistachio or marzipan. The shapes are the Easter bunny and the egg because they are signs of fertility.

Marie Rauw

Easter in Denmark

In Denmark the religion of the country is Christianity and more precisely Protestantism. We, therefore, celebrate Christmas, Easter and other Christian holidays and of course holidays specific for Denmark.

In Denmark Easter is a holiday where the schools close from Maunday Thursday till Easter Monday. We celebrate it with chocolate as eggs and bunnies, Easter decorations and if you want to, going to church, but it is mostly the older generation. In Denmark, we are not very religious, and if we are it is most often very private and it is not a big topic in conversations.

We have a tradition in Denmark to gather with friends and family for a big gathering around Easter and Christmas. So you as a person can easily go to two or more Christmas parties in December: one with friends, one with family, one with work and/ or one with your classmates. And it is the same around Easter, but, it is usually one with a family that is the biggest and most important. Here you get to see all the extended family that you do not see otherwise. Here we gather to eat a lot of traditional food such as lamb, herring, shrimp and eggs, meatballs, beer and snaps. It revolves around the classic Danish food known as “Smorrebrod”.

In my family, we also paint and go roll the eggs. The Egg Game is who can roll/ throw his or her egg closest to the goal and see how good you are and how long your egg lasts.

When celebrating Easter all the students in schools usually make Easter crafts in art class. We call them “gækkebreve” which you can loosely translate to “Fool letters” that originates from 1600. You have a piece of paper that you fold and cut shapes in with a scissor. In the middle, you write a small poem and sign it with dots, the same amount of dots used in your name. Then you give it to a person in a way that they do not know who it is from like leaving it on their table. They then have to guess who the sender is. If they are wrong the saying is that they owe you a chocolate egg.

Marie Reif Hill-Madsen

Spain during Easter is worth visiting!

Spain takes Easter really seriously, in a way is the second most celebrated date of the year, after Christmas of course. It is a Christian celebration, and we call it “saint week” and it commemorates The Christ Passion. It lasts 7 days and during that time the streets of every city in Spain are crowded, full of music and colors, which makes it a great moment to visit Spain, but of course, not every part of Spain is in the same way.

The most popular activity in each city of Spain is the procession. These parades consist of a group of Nazarenes, wearing exuberant dresses, holding representations of Christ´s life and playing the drums at the rhythm of the steps, depending on the city there are other instruments, going from gregorian chants to the cornet. They are impressive because of the seriousness of the activity, but also worth watching.

The south of Spain has the most joyful celebration, pointing Sevilla as the capital of this festival in Spain. It has popular processions, but the proportions and emotions of these make it more special. With 50.000 Nazarenes participating and the population of Sevilla getting double only for that week, it is a unique event everybody should watch once in a lifetime.

Sticking in the south, we go to Hellín, Albacete with an impressive tradition made of drums and more drums and more drums… More than 20.000 people take their drums and go out to the streets to play them with a characteristic attire made of red and black. During one of the days of the celebration, the drummers stay all night without any rest playing the drums even until bleeding honoring Christ´s suffering.

Moving to the east of Spain, into Catalunya, during this week every bakery reveals a special dessert, this special food is called “Mona de Pascua” which is a kind of pie with an egg over it and it’s given from the godfather/godmother to the godson/goddaughter. It is well known for being delicious and for the family reunion that comes with it always on Easter Monday.

There is another kind of food that is traditionally eaten at Easter and it is “Torrijas”. This sweet can be eaten during the whole year but Easter is a special moment for that. This ritual is not about regions, in the whole of Spain during these days yo have to have “Torrijas” for breakfast at least once. Made out of bread, milk, sugar, and cinnamon, there is not a better way to wake up than smelling them.

For last but not least let´s get to something a little bit more personal, in some villages of Spain (and mine) during those days a different kind of celebration happens. It’s called “Quintos” and it’ss about esteeming the kids who are getting into adulthood and all the population of the village participates in it. Its history comes from long ago when the boys had to go to do the military service and this was the way of wishing a good farewell for them. Times have changed and now is a celebration for boys and girls although they don´t have to leave home after it.

This celebration in Spain, as I said in the beginning, is Christian but everybody is invited to enjoy it. Spain is not only a Summer holiday option, but our culture also goes beyond warmth and beaches, so if you are wondering, don´t hesitate and visit it.

Fabian Bajen

EASTER IN CATALUNYA

In Catalunya, a part of the religious traditions that we have during Easter, there is also a big food tradition where godmothers and godfathers take part with their godchildren. Probably, due to this sweet tradition, Easter is one of my favourite celebrations. In the next lines you are going to know a little bit more about what dwe eat, when and why.

So let’s start! Tortell de Rams is the typical cake for Palm Sunday, the week before Easter, and godparents give it to their godchildren after the celebratory service in the church.

In Catalunya, “tortells” are a very common dessert. A tortell is a sweet coca, a bread-like cake, which is usually ring-shaped and is the typical food of many Catalan festivals. For example, the Tortell de Reis and the Tortell de Sant Antoni are basically the same but with small variations.

The Tortell de Rams, like those in the other festivals, may be stuffed and decorated with various ingredients, although the most typical version is filled with marzipan and decorated with candied fruit.

For a long time, until well into the 20th century, it was traditional for the cake makers and also householders, to make tortells with hard-boiled eggs on the top, which godparents gave to their godchildren on the Sunday of Pasqua Florida (the Feast of Flowers), or the day after.

Nowadays, Easter includes a culinary treat eagerly awaited by the little ones: the mona. After centuries of evolution, the mona de Pasqua is a sweet, normally made of chocolate, that comes in various forms, often related to the annual trends for children. It seems that the word mona could be derived from the Arabic word munah, which means gift.

According to tradition, the cake had to have the same number of eggs as the age of the child to which it was given, until they had their first communion. Over time, the eggs became chocolate, and today the mona has become a chocolate figure of any manner of shape or colour: we can find everything from traditional eggs to cartoon characters, animals, and football players. But one thing that many have in common are the coloured goose feathers and little yellow chicks made of felt.

News form Anna – ESC Volunteer in Spain

Hi! My name is Anna and I am currently working as an European Volunteer in Malaga, Spain.

My adventure with European Solidarity Corps programme began when I decided to apply for a project.  After my successful selection process I came to Malaga in October 2019 and started my work at IES La Rosaleda, which is a secondary, vocational school. I work with another volunteer from France. Our main tasks include: coordinationg ‘’speaking sessions’’ in English and French, so the teachers and students can improve their language skills. Secondly, we are in charge of posting content on the blog and documenting our activities. We organize presentations and events promoting european mobility and Erasmus+, we visit classes and give mini presentations concerning holidays and different events. Moreover we helped during the Erasmus+ selection process, as we run the English interviews and prepared info-packs for the students.

A big part of our project is hosting visits from the international partners of our school. We enjoy having guests at our institute, showing them our projects and mobilities. It is a good oportunity to make new connections and create partnerships.

The whole ESC experience is super international, as I live and work with people from various countries. I am fortunate to live close to the city centre with 4 great flatmates. We share a lot of our cultures and experiences. When it comes to the coordination of the project I am also satisfied, I haven’d had any major problems since arriving to Spain. I can count on the constant support of my coordinators at schools, who are very helping and understanding.

Living in Spain, especially Andalucia, is super different than living in Poland. The mentality and style of life of the Spanish people is something I had to get used to. The language barier was a problem at the beginning (I left Poland with the A2 level) but I quickly improved. Malaga offers many great opportunities to improve the language, like exchanges and language meetings. As ESC volunteers we also have an access to the OLS language platform.

Malaga is a very beautiful, historical city itself, but it is also a great place to live to explore the whole Andalucia. I am so thankful that so far I could have visited many nearby cities and villages. It has been a great opportunity to know the Spanish culture more.

So far I am enjoying my experience as much as I can!