In Italy, there are no Easter egg hunts, no marshmallow Peeps and definitely no jelly beans. Instead, there are chocolate eggs — massive, elaborately decorated, beautifully wrapped chocolate Easter eggs that fill shop windows across the country. The sweet treats are considered Italians’ food gift of choice at this time of year; each one comes with a surprise tucked inside. Each Easter, My Mama Carmela would always secure a gorgeous creme-filled chocolate treat for my siblings and I from a local confectionery shop called “The Sugar Bowl.” The flavors of the chocolaty, creamy goodness still resonates from the archives of my fond childhood memories.While you probably won’t see these gorgeous, colorful eggs being offered by folks in Easter bunny costumes, eggs are still an integral part of Italian Easter and spring celebrations. In fact, long before Christianity even became the predominant religion in Europe, eggs were already revered as a symbol of rebirth. This is particularly apparent during springtime, when birds and farmed chickens would begin breeding and lay eggs. Eventually, they became an important element of the Italian Easter banquet.
It is said that in the past that hard-boiled eggs were painted red as a symbol of the blood of Christ and given as gifts during Easter Sunday. Today, Italian Easter eggs come in all colors and patterns and are often used to decorate tables.
Also, while Easter mass will be held in every church in Italy, the biggest and most popular mass is held by the Pope at Saint Peter’s Basilica. On Good Friday, the Pope celebrates the Via Crucis or Stations of the Cross in Rome near the Coliseum. A huge cross with burning torches lights the sky as the stations of the cross are described in several languages. At the end, the Pope gives a blessing. A blessed celebration for all.