Marte Eggleston is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2016, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A journalism major at the Indiana University, she is studying abroad in Florence this semester.
In this week's post, Marte shares her experience of celebrating Easter in Italy and shares some of the local traditions.
For the past couple of weeks, the stores in Florence have been preparing for Easter. Instead of Easter baskets with plastic eggs, the popular Easter items are Kinder Eggs (banned in the US!), which are chocolate eggs, varying in size, filled with a prize. The prize is like something you would find in a Happy Meal, and you can choose which theme your egg has; there are Frozen, Lego, and superhero themed eggs for kids and adults alike. Another popular choice is cakes in the shape of doves, which come with almonds and dried oranges.
The Florentines like to celebrate Easter in a big way. Every year there is the Scoppio del Carro or the Explosion of the Cart. I was able to attend the famous event, and I have never seen anything like it! It takes place in front of the Duomo, and there was quite a large crowd. Now the cart doesn’t actually explode; just a lot of fireworks are set off. The Florentines might be pyromaniacs, but it is quite the display. I was more than a little concerned about lighting fireworks so close to The Duomo, but there was really nothing to worry about.
The whole process takes about an hour from 10am to 11am. It begins with the priest using flint to light coals, which ultimately light the rest of the fireworks off. The priest preaches, in Italian, so that part was a little challenging. There is also a choir with a processional band of horns. This tradition has been going on for centuries in Florence, and it was really special to me to be able to witness it.
One of the things I love about Florence is that it keeps its traditions without feeling out-of-date or silly. It also can seem a little unnecessary to light off fireworks while the sun is still shining, but it only adds to the ceremony in this case.
I am glad that I continue to experience once in a lifetime events in Florence considering I only have about a month left! I can hardly believe that time has gone by so fast just as I start to feel more and more like a true Florentine as the weeks go by. I’m even starting to notice the flow of tourists starting to increase as the weather gets warmer and I feel a little justified in being annoyed by the crowds. As the temperature goes up, the city shakes off its winter gloom, and you can see more and more why so many people fall in love with Florence. Florence just continues to prove to me that I could not have picked a better city to study abroad.
Marte's journey continues every Thursday so stay tuned.