Easter Day. Today marks the first moment since arriving in Italy that I have felt a little displaced. While everyone asked us if we were homesick over Christmas, it is on this day that we miss our traditions. I miss celebrating Passover with our Hebrew-Christian friends. I miss rising early and meeting the dawn, singing in celebration with our church family as the sun makes its brilliant appearance over the Sandia Mountains. It feels a little strange to not have that experience for the first time in many, many years.
Not that Italy is lacking in tradition. While we didn’t have the colorful, soulful processions I’ve hear are the norm in the southern regions, there was a solemn evening, torch-lit via crucis on Good Friday that wound its way through the centro storico and the streets were literally filled with thousands of people following the stations of the cross, ending up at the Cathedral. Church bells have peeled triumphantly throughout the day and we opened the windows to hear them. We made the traditional Easter lasagna, which I must admit was the best I’ve ever produced, having procured the freshest of sheep’s milk ricotta and the famed mozzarella di bufala, washed down with a fizzy but dry Lambrusco. We even tried to go to mass but each church we encountered was emptying, our timing was just all wrong.
Since becoming a Christian in 1989, Easter has been my favored holiday. Contrary to popular belief, Christmas isn’t the most important day; the highest holy day in the Christian calendar is Easter. Christmas is nice, but Easter is significant. It marks the very foundation for our faith – an atoning death and an empty tomb. It means that the earth trembled, sin was conquered, heaven opened, and everlasting love was bestowed.
Chocolate bunnies, surprised-filled eggs, and traditional foods like lasagna are good; but the promise of forgiveness and life eternal, those are the real treasures of Easter.
Wherever you are and whatever your Easter traditions, Buona Pasqua a voi.