Easter Traditions in Sardinia
Easter in Sardinia is called ‘Sa Pasca Manna'(the great Easter). The island's Holy Week celebrations date back to pre-Christian times when it was customary to welcome the arriving Spring with religious ceremonies and prayers for a flourishing farming and hunting season. Nowadays pagan ceremonies are mixed with religious traditions (some brought to Sardinia by the Spanish colonization) that lead Sardinia to offer amazing events every Easter.
You won't see the famous Easter bunny or go on an egg hunt in Sardinia, but you won't be disappointed because Easter in Sardinia is a spectacular time.
How does Sardinia Celebrate Easter? Here Are Some Sardinian Easter Traditions.
These are the most famous Easter customs, all arranged and brought to life by the local Churches usually with statues but sometimes these rites are brought to life by real actors.
- Palm Sunday: It is celebrated on the Sunday before Easter and serves to represent the festive entry of Jesus into Jerusalem (according to the Bible he was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd that waved palm branches to greet him).
- Good Friday: a procession that retraces the 'Via Crucis' (the12 Stations of the Cross)
- Holy Saturday: the deposition of the Christ statue (‘Su Scravamentu') in the tomb; It begins with a procession led by whispered, sad songs and ends in silence during the laying of the body.
- Easter Sunday: a procession where the statue of the Risen Christ meets the one of the Madonna (‘S'Incontru'); this is usually an emotional moment that brings many spectators to tears no matter if you're a believer or not.
As already mentioned, some rituals present Spanish religious traditions like those in Alghero where the festivities begin on Tuesday with the ‘Misteri Procession' in which seven statues depicting various scenes from the 12 Stations of the Cross are carried to seven churches singing traditional chants in Catalan language. The coffin carrying the body of Jesus is made entirely of pure gold to demonstrate the ancient wealth of the city.
The Southwest Sardinia Easter Traditions
Easter celebrations depicting the passion and resurrection of Christ are different in almost every town on the island, as local customs are incorporated into their celebrations.
In the southwest of Sardinia, the Easter traditions of the city of Iglesias attract many tourists. The most important event, not to be missed, is the Good Friday procession, organised since the mid-1500s. This procession takes place at night, along the streets of Iglesias. It is a procession where there is a precise order: The ‘Matracconis' open the procession (men with a traditional instrument that makes a very loud noise), the drums, the Cross, and the ‘Babbalotti' (boys up to thirteen years old dressed entirely in white who accompany the statue of Christ). After these characters, the procession continues with 'Is Vexillas' (two large canvases painted with Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, who deposited Christ in the tomb); two anonymous servants carrying the ladder for the deposition; two children representing St John and Mary Magdalene; and finally, the stretcher with an ancient wooden statue of Christ, followed by the Virgin Mary.
What Sardinia eats during the Easter celebration
The rites and ceremonies are not the only memorable thing about the Easter celebration, the food is the icing on the cake! You must try out the various available dishes during the Easter season. Here just some examples.
- The bread ‘Coccoi': This is a hard bread (made with durum wheat semolina) with a golden and crispy crust, it has a very compact white crumb and shapes that make it characteristic. Cooking must take place in the typical wood-fired oven. For Easter, once the dough is ready, it is decorated and inserted inside its shapes a whole egg, as a symbol of rebirth. The ingredients of this kind of bread are simple but the workmanship required is particularly laborious, as well as the decoration phase which requires a knife, a wheel, scissors, tweezers, needles and a fork.
- ‘Sa Pardula': The pardulas are the typical Easter dessert and, after the seadas, they are perhaps the best known and loved among Sardinian desserts. They are small cakes made with ricotta cheese flavored with orange or lemon peel and saffron which gives them their characteristic flavor.
- ‘Sa panada': The panada is a basket of bread inside which the ingredients cook as if it were a pot. The best known is the one from Assemina (a few kilometers from Cagliari), based on eel and potatoes, and the one from Oschiri (between Sassari and Olbia), with pork meat. For Easter, instead, is prepared the panada with lamb and artichokes. The bread used to create the panada is made of ground semolina, lard, salt, and water and, once the dough has been created, it is shaped like a sort of pot in which all the previously cooked ingredients are placed and then covered with a carefully sewn bread lid. It is put in the oven and let cook until the dough becomes golden.
- Lamb and Artichokes: Another mouth-watering dish is Lamb and Artichokes. Lamb with artichokes is a traditional Sardinian dish prepared around Easter. Fresh lamb and fresh artichokes are easily accessible in Sardinia, delivering the highest quality. The addition of artichokes enhances the flavor of the delicious lamb flesh. Before adding the artichokes, the meat must be browned and simmered for an hour.
The Sardinia Weather in Easter
During Easter time the range of average daytime temperatures is around 19-23 degrees. Imagine your Easter holidays among fields in blossoms, vibrant colours, long sunny days, and deserted beaches. Easter in Sardinia means enjoying the weather and nature, eating traditional dishes, and learning about some of the island's oldest traditions.
Easter is a great time to visit Sardinia and immerse yourself in its culture.
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