66. Pasqua

Here are the three things my father told me about Easter in Gaeta, Italy:

Easter 1955, with my father and grandfather.

1. At 11 a.m. on Easter Saturday, the worms come out of the cream puffs. I can only surmise that this was a little fib told to keep children from swiping the special Easter pastry too soon. Not to generalize about Italians, but in my own experience, lying to children to inspire good behavior was considered a normal aspect of good parenting.

2. At the same moment, the salt water of the Mediterranean turns to fresh, evidence of the awe-inspiring wonder and power of God.

The Mediterranean Sea at Gaeta.

3. The day after Easter, called Pasquetta, or Little Easter, is like a field day. Everyone packs a lunch, and goes into the countryside early in the morning for a day of fun and fresh air. Characteristically, my father would have eaten his lunch and returned home to bed by 9 a.m.

So this year, I will have a chance to see for myself. On Good Friday, I fly to Rome, arriving in time to test the cream puffs myself. My daughter Maria has an assignment there, and has generously invited me to tag along.

I have actually had the good fortune to have been in Italy for Easter once before. In 2002, Ben and my daughter Elizabeth spent a semester in London. Maria, my then-87-year-old mother, and I went over for a spring break visit, and we all took advantage of those cheap European fares to fly to Bologna for the weekend. We spent Easter Sunday making a road trip across the boot to see the amazing mosaics of Ravenna. My most distinct memory of that time were the street corner vendors selling chocolate rabbits wrapped in gorgeously-colored cellophane.

In America, we elevate Christmas, because of its commercial possibilities. But in the rest of the Christian world, Easter’s the thing. I’m so excited to have a chance to be in the thick of it. Stay tuned.

3 thoughts on “66. Pasqua

  1. Today in Verona, the blessing of olive branches at Mass seems to be the trend. Somehow it feels appropriate and comforting – in this crazy world – to see so many people carrying them throughout our afternoon travels.


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