Sunday, March 23, 2008

Holy Saturday

For Italians, and by extension Italian Americans, the vigil of both Easter and Christmas was celebrated with as much zeal and more preparation than the day itself. In my family, it was no exception. Holy Saturday evening was a major holiday in my family. We would all get together at my Aunt Fran and Uncle Louie's house (everyone should have an Uncle Louie). There would be certain special foods we ate only that night.

I have always wondered the reason for this. Partly, I believe it was the idea of watchful waiting. Partly it was probably to due with the liturgical calender and the fact that in ancient Jewish practice, the day began at sundown. Partly maybe it was a very practical result of Italy's economy of the time. Southern Italy was very rural and it was difficult to work on the farm during the midday. So people tended to work early in the morning and later in the afternoon. So the evening probably seemed the best time to celebrate -- with the sun down, you could gather with your family and not worry about

Today, we tried to replicate the old ways with some friends. In old practice, the Lenten fast was far more stringent. Not only did Catholics abstain from meat on Friday's, they would abstain from meat, eggs and milk products during the season. So to celebrate Easter, the foods are heavily with those three items. In my family, this meant we eat meat pies filled with sausage, prosciutto, other meat, ricotta, mozzarella, and egg. We also eat a "spaghetti pie" which is pasta, eggs and cheese. Spinach pie ties to add something healthy to the meal, but that too adds more cheese and egg to the meal.

So yes, you should not eat this everyday -- your artieries will hate you if you do.

The bells of Catholic churches are silent from the Gloria on Holy Thursday until the Gloria on Holy Saturday. In the old days, I am told, people would wait to hear the church bells ring before beginning the meal, as the bells of Holy Saturday marked the end of Lent.

1 comment:

William R. Barker said...

Yo! ANTHONY! Are you traveling in a different timezone...?

It's EASTER, Bro!

HAPPY EASTER to you and yours!