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How to Have an Italian Easter Party
Get tips on how to host an unforgettable, Italian style holiday bash
by Francesca Di Meglio
My Italian husband is spending Easter, his first holiday - other than Thanksgiving, which is not celebrated in Italy - in the United States with me in 2010. We've never spent a major holiday that both of our families celebrate together ever, not even in the last year and a half since we got married. My goal is to make this one special feast. If I'm to do it correctly, I'll have to bring Italian Easter to him in the States. Here's some of what my husband is probably expecting and which you might want to infuse into your Easter celebration -
Get the right gift.
There is no Easter bunny in Italy. But people give each other chocolate eggs stuffed with little gifts. The eggs are usually rather large and wrapped in colorful metallic foil. In addition to the already prepared eggs that you can buy in any supermarket in Italy, you can have your egg personalized by choosing the gift to put inside it at specialty stores. Children's eggs often are stuffed with toys or little games. I've gotten everything from a pair of earrings to a plastic bowling set in my chocolate eggs. You'll be eating the chocolate until fourth of July.
Prepare the Easter eggs.
Many Italians in the south use natural dyes, such as tea or onion skins, to color their Easter eggs. Red onion skins, which produce maroon or brown eggs, are by far the most popular Easter egg dye. All you have to do is fill a pot with water, the onion skins, and eggs and then boil it all together.
You can make a lovely centerpiece for your Easter table by placing some straw in a basket and nestling the naturally dyed eggs inside. Hard boiled eggs should also appear in the antipasto dish on your table. Eggs are a symbol of rebirth and therefore are perfect for the holiday table - and Italians are sure to have it represented at their Easter celebrations.
Serve an Italian meal.
Like any holiday and most Sundays in southern Italy, families and friends gather for a great meal that includes antipasto (appetizers), primo piatto (usually pasta, soup, or rice), secondo piatto (usually fish or meat) with contorni (side dishes), and dolci (desserts). On Easter, Italians often eat typical cold cuts (prosciutto, cheese, salami, etc.) for antipasto, pasta either with any sauce you'd like (Bolognese sauce or something with peas could be delicious), and lamb (my people in Ischia often eat rabbit, too, but eating the Easter bunny won't fly with most Americans), and pastiera or wheat pie for dessert.
If you ever go to Italy or visit with an Italian around Easter time, she will likely offer you a piece of pastiera. You must accept it, eat it, and compliment it. I think it might even be Italian law. You'll be sick of pastiera by the time Easter Monday, also known as Pasquetta, rolls around.
Read a poem.
Stand on one of your chairs and recite a poem about Easter just as an Italian child would do for his or her parents. This is a fun holiday tradition in Italy, and often the children who do this get a reward, perhaps another chocolate egg or some loose change.
At the end of your meal, you can grab some of those dyed Easter eggs to play a game. You hold one egg, and your opponent holds the other. Then, you smack your eggs together and see which one cracks first. The person whose egg remains intact is the winner. You keep up this tournament with the other guests until there is only one egg standing. The keeper of the strongest egg is the winner.
Di Meglio is the Guide to Newlyweds for About.com, and you can read more about her life and career at the Two Worlds Web site.
Article Published 3/1/10
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