In Italy, out of all Christian holidays, Easter is undoubtedly the most important because it celebrates the resurrection of Jesus.
For this reason, Easter menus are prepared with food recalling Christian symbols: eggs are a must, as a symbolic representation of transmutation. Hard boiled eggs are often decorated by children, brought to Church, blessed and then shared with friends. Fish is also very important, because the Greek name for it, “Ikthus”, was also the code term with which the persecuted Christians named Jesus Christ (Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter, meaning: Jesus Christ Son of God the Savior). The real Easter fish, if you want to fully respect the symbolism should be the one with scales, but -by extension- every fish is welcome on the table. Lamb (agnello in Italian), is the other ritual food, as it recalls Jesus Christ’s peaceful and voluntary sacrifice. Lamb is sometimes replaced by kid, similar flavor, but a bit away from the traditional symbolic.
These plates are then served with other foods of the pagan tradition, such as season vegetables (often artichokes) that have always represented abundance, rich pork meat and all of the first fruits of spring.
To end the Easter dinner with dessert, nowadays the “colomba” (Dove) is mandatory as well as Neapolitan pastries. The dove (cooked wheat and eggs) is the symbol of the end of the 40 days of rain having generated the Flood recounted in Genesis (Noah sets free a dove that eventually returns to the ark carrying an olive branch in its bill: flood is over, trees have surfaced again…).
If Easter is a great and solemn celebration, the Italian custom for Easter Monday is the “outing” if the weather permits, leaving the children to run in the meadows and adults to enjoy the first warm days. In Greve in Chianti there is usually a nice flea market where people are strolling, looking for a good bargain!
While in Chianti at Villa le Barone for Easter, (our Easter special offfer) you can attend Saturday night’s Mass in the close by San Leolino Romanesque church, witness the blessing of the eggs and watch afterwards the Colombina tradition (a long a wire a little mechanical rocket propelled dove flies carrying an olive branch in its beak -symbol of Peace- and its goal is to reach a cart with an ignited fuse to light the fireworks the cart holds. By tradition, if the explosion is perfect and the dove flies back to its point of origin, the coming year will be a positive one for health, harvests, business …). On Sunday children can hunt Easter eggs in the Villa’s gardens, enjoy the chocolate egg given at breakfast, and all can savor the Easter menu served for dinner!