Easter 2021: it is the first holiday that occurs in Spring or Autumn depending on which half of the Earth you live.
With the Pandemic limiting our travel options, it is though still interesting to learn about Easter customs in the different regions of Italy. Let's start today with Sicily.
Easter customs in Sicily
The procession of the Hooded
This Sicilian celebration represents one of the most important event of the year and culminate in the Good Friday procession , during which about 2,500 hooded confreres parade , carrying the fercoli (the characteristic carts, sedans and litters) of the dead Christ , while expressing "lamentations", the ancient religious songs in which the pain of mourning for the death of Christ is expressed.
The pecorella (little lambs) made of Marzipan
Together with the " Pupi cull'ovu " these cute sheep are the traditional sweets par excellence of the Easter period and are widespread throughout Sicily. The main ingredient are almonds: the lamb is in fact entirely made of Marzipan, also called martorana , from the name of the convent which, according to legend, invented it. The preparation, based on almond flour and sugar, is known in the rest of Italy as marzipan. The typical shape is a sheep sitting on a lawn, surrounded by colored sugared almonds and chocolate eggs. The sheep is decorated with red bows. Some variants, including the most famous one originally from Favara (Agrigento) require that the interior is made of precious pistachio paste.
During the Easter festivities, the cannatedde, a typical short crust pastry cake containing a hard-boiled egg, are baked and sold throughout Sicily. The most common name is "pupi cu l'ovu" and can take different shapes such as baskets, doves or flowers and be decorated with sugar icing and colored sugared almonds.
Trapani - the Cassatelle
“I cassateddi ” - the cassatelle - are widespread throughout the Trapani area. Once they were consumed only in the Easter period, now, thank god, they can be enjoyed and bought easily all year round from bakeries and pastry shops. The small short crust pastry ravioli are fried in boiling oil and covered with icing sugar. At the first bite they reveal a very soft filling based on a delicious ricotta cream, mixed with dark chocolate and cinnamon drops.
Modica - the famous Chocolate egg
Modica is also famous for the preparation of its special chocolate, produced as centuries ago by the Aztecs . The cocoa beans are cold-pounded together with cinnamon, vanilla and sugar, until a homogeneous paste is obtained, where the sugar crystals are still perfectly visible.
The typical chocolate has always been sold in the classic form of bars, but with the arrival of Easter, for a couple of years, it is also possible to buy the famous chocolate in the form of an Easter egg (a very elegant Easter egg!).
Antica Dolceria Bonajuto, the oldest Sicilian chocolate factory, creates an elegant "quilted" version, produced with the traditional low-temperature chocolate processing and maintaining the grainy texture that made this chocolate so unique.
Ferla - the Cassateddi
Crunchy and delicate like a tart but with a tender heart, the Easter cassatelle are widespread throughout Eastern Sicily and are very different from the fried ravioli-shaped desserts.
Needless to say, both desserts are delicious, and use the same scented filling of ricotta and cinnamon, but in the Syracusano version, there is also a more rustic version that involves the use of tuma, a typical Sicilian cheese.