Encounters, breakups and even wars…
Every year, the approximately 2,380 million Christians in the world observe, with more or less fervor, their Holy Week.
Although many of the traditions are common, many places have their particular customssome of which literally flavor these dates.
Delicacies such as Argentinian Easter cake and Easter dove -Italian Easter pigeon-, as well as the brioche of care Is hot cross bun -glazed raisin buns with a cross on top- and the crimson red eggs that decorate the tsoureki sweet bread – a bread flavored with orange and spices – from Greece deliciously marks Christianity’s holiest week.
But few of these delicacies reach the dimensions of the first of these 4 curious traditions.
Every year at Easter, the members of the World Brotherhood of the Knights of the Giant Omelette gather in at least six towns in the southwest of France to fulfill their mission: “prepare and serve, for free and with joy, a giant tortilla“.
About 50 volunteers break about 15,000 eggs, add several kilos of duck fat and a good amount of salt, pepper and local Espelette pepper, and pour them into a giant frying pan about four meters in diameter.
The chefs, wielding huge wooden spoons that look like oars, stir the mixture over an open fire in the town square for about 30 to 40 minutes, until it’s ready to serve at the festivities.
The tradition started in 1973, but according to legend, was born from a visit to the region from Napoleon Bonaparyouand who, after enjoying an omelette prepared by a local innkeeper, ordered the townspeople to gather all the eggs they could find to make a giant one for his army.
Over time the custom has crossed the border and, although not always with the same recipe or at the same time, thousands of eggs are also broken in places in Belgium, Canada, the United States and Argentina.
And speaking of a breakup…
On the Greek island of Corfu, as the bells ring at midday on Holy Saturday, locals throw huge vases adorned with ribbons from their balconies adorned with red flowers.
They loudly celebrate that death has been conquered by the Resurrectionwith the breaking of the vases symbolizing the earthquake which occurred during the opening of the tomb of Christ.
Inspiration for the rowdy event comes from Venice, where people used to throw their old things out the window on New Year’s Day in the hope that it will bring them news.
The people of Corfu adopted the custom of the most important day of Greek Orthodoxy, the day of the resurrection, choosing these vases precisely because they make a lot of noise when broken.
But Corfu isn’t the only Greek island celebrating the Resurrection at full volume.
Across Greece, midnight mass on Easter Sunday is celebrated with fireworks, but on the island of Chios things are serious.
Two rival churches re-enact a “Rocket War” or rooketopolein Greek.
It is not known when the fight started, although local tradition says it dates back to Ottoman times, and no one remembers the reason anymore, but the parishes of San Marco and Panaghia Ereithiani, built on hills 400 meters apart, open fire against the bell tower of the opposition all night.
Until 1889 they did so with cannons, and when these were banned and confiscated, parishioners resorted to homemade rockets.
The sign of victory is the most direct hits inflicted on the opponent, which are counted the following morning, to declare the winner.
But each year, the two congregations declare themselves winnersand agree to disagree and settle accounts the following year.
Now, if you wanted to celebrate the Resurrection in an equally exciting but kinder way, your destination could be the birthplace of the Roman poet Ovid in Italy.
The Escaped Madonna
The medieval town of Sulmona makes a narrative recreation of the encounter between the mother of Jesus and the risen Christ.
On Easter Sunday, the Virgin leaves the Church of San Filippo Neri, at the corner of Piazza Garibaldi, dressed in a white scarf and dressed in black, for her mourning, carried by members of the brotherhood of Santa Maria de Loreto ( luterini) who take her through the main passage of the square, and accompanied by two apostles.
At some point, the atmosphere becomes tense. The two apostles stop, while, from afar, the Virgin looks for her son.
Suddenly, sees it
At 12:00 sharp, there is a loud whistle and a knock.
In an instant, thanks to an ingenious system of threads (known only to the brotherhood and the family which has the privilege of dressing the Virgin), the black cloak and scarf fall, revealing a splendid green robe embroidered with gold and a red rose, while 12 doves fly through the air.
The luterini begin to run, the Virgin seems to fly between the applause of the people, the notes of the brass band, the ringing of bells and the roar of firecrackers, to meet her Risen Jesus, a statue that had been placed at the beginning of the ceremony in side of the central arch of the Roman aqueduct that frames Piazza Garibaldi.
The meeting is celebrated with hugs and even a few tears.
The ritual has its notes of superstition: if the whole sequence goes well (race, fall of the coat and the handkerchief, flight of the doves), tradition predicts that the year will be prosperous, while if something does not happen like expected, or misfortunes.
Concerns are heightened if the Madonna statue is damaged or falls during the race, as was the case in 1914, which some say heralded the next war.
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