What is a ‘Cuzzupe’ and Other Easter Treats?

By Alberto Amore

Christmas and thanksgiving are known for their big family feasts with both Christian and non religious families gathering together to dine with turkeys, potatoes and salads, but these gatherings pale in comparison to an Italian Easter.

While Anglo-Saxon parents carefully place small, store bought easter eggs around the backyard and exchange a branded grocery store egg with each member of the family, Italian families have had their heads buried in ovens for days on end producing a very purposeful and regimented period of family famine followed by indulgent, all consuming all encompassing feasting. Chocolate is on the margins where whole foods, natural ingredients and recipes lasting generations sometimes to the Romans are shared and enjoyed by families connected by blood but fused by food.

The patterns are similar, there is fasting, usually for the forty days of lent, certain foods and certain treats are consumed on certain days of the Holy weeks. Baccala, an air dried fish, usually cod, in Napoli is a salt cured fish in Calabria. It has a shelf life of several years and is consumed on ‘Venerdi Sante’ or ‘Holy Friday’ or ‘Good Friday’ as an act of sacrifice for crucified God.

All throughout Italy there are countless rituals, processions, traditions, people marching with torches and bare-feet along kilometres of stone streets. In my home village, dozens of people line the streets and play a parochial wooden percussion instrument in a thunderous demonstration support for the passing parade. The instruments, like the parade only arise once a year. [Read more…]

The Gift of an Italian Christmas

By Al Mach

Much is said about the commercialization of Christmas and the loss of the Christmas spirit. So what is Christmas and what is behind the Italian tradition that has been exported to the world over?

Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. It is a Roman Catholic tradition which is emulated by many other cultures throughout the world. The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem was a coming together of the Holy Madonna, Saint Joseph, Baby Jesus and the three wise men who received an invite by The Star of Bethlehem or Christmas Star as it now often now known.

It may have also included the Innkeeper who received the travelers in a barn or cave, as his inn was full. The stories (as there many) and the scene is often supported by animal friends such as a Donkey, an Ox and the Camels of the Magi and may extend to others. The birth of Jesus, the first Christmas is recognized in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew in the New Testament of the Christian Bibles. [Read more…]

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