The remains of the old Calvary
The newest Calvary built in 1961
Rites and Traditions of Easter
by Toto` Miletta
The rites of the Holy Week that precede the Easter, begin on Palm Sunday "the Duminica of ' la liva’(Palm Sunday in local dialect) "with the blessing of the palms and of the olive twigs. The palms symbolize the victory of Christ and the olive is the symbol of peace since the dove rescued from the universal downpour returned to Noah’s Arc bringing back a small twig. In the previous days preceding Palm Sunday, us boys payed attention to see when in the village Square the vendors, from S. Nicola da Crissa (another village nearby) came and brought the palm & olive twigs in their traditional straw containers. After we bought the twigs we had to find an expert person to interweave the cruciform and or panierino (a typical calabrese container), to bring for the blessing, that was carried out in front of the church. The most effective method to find out about who the exspert interweaver was was by word of mouth. Then, to avoid embarassing situations arising from too many people at the same time, we used to show up one at the time.
After the blessing, a piece of palm and or twig was hung behind the main door of everyone’s house, while other parts were carried in the country to to be planted and/or hung to some broken off tree, as we had to make sure that the "divine blessing" came down on our properties and was protected it from the danger of scarcity.
In the course of the holy week, we use to work on getting ready the sepulcher, decorated with cloths, flowers, plants and candles. Extremely symbolic, among all the Sepulcher’s decorations, were the buds of grain and other cereals dried in the dark to give them a clear and almost transparent coloring. Every family brought their pot. It was an intense activity and, almost a contest-like competition among the villages nearby, given that every village wa trying to have a nicer sepulcher. Every year we always sought to change something (the man behind everything was,naturally, Damiano Valente).
On Thursday, it was the rite of the Last Supper; twelve men, chosen annually between the parishioners that were part of the Confraternita of the Madonna of the Rosary, represented the apostles, and the priest during the sacred function, proceeded to the washing of the feet and to the blessing of the bread. The bread, at the end of the function, was given out in litttle pieces as a sign of devotion to all people met on the way.
The Friday we used to get up early because we had to get ready to visit the Sepulchers of the other villages (Spadola & Simbario). We used to play the “carici” (a typical instrument built out of wood) with passion and we would never get tired of it. After the visit to the Sepulchers, we used to carry the statue of the Crucified One to the Calvary and there it was exhibited to the faithful to be adored. The Calvary, until not long ago, was located on the imminent mountain called “lu Timpuni” . All the surroundings are named Calvary Hill, Hill of the Cross, Calvary Square to complement the old Calvary’s location. It was difficult to reach it through a tight walking path. That is why later it was moved to the present location and a plaque on the site reminds us the year of the event. Once the Crucified One was in place he could never be left alone and for this, us boys, we used to organize ourselves to do watching shifts. The rest of us used to go in search of flowers and violets to place them at the bottom of the cross.
A picture of Good Fryday in 1944 ( Courtesy of Cosimo Bertucci ,
the son of “ lu camardu “ ). To note the set up of five crosses.
The Saturday was dedicated to the collection of small imagins and of calendars representing something of sacred and considered "old", to be burnt in the fire that was lit up in the evening. For the Easter Sunday, we would go to Church and then we would see each other on the Square to exchange the Best Wishes. That day the custom was to have lamb or small goat for dinner.
Easter Monday was the day of the “Angel” and we would eat only bread and water and that would be part of the “Choruses of the Angels”. The “Chorus of the Angels” would be done for nine years plus three more representing The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and at the end we would order a thank you Mass payed with our hard earned money.
The “Pasquetta” was on the Tuesday, "Marti di Galilea "(local dialect). We spent the day out in the open with friends and relatives eating all sorts of food and the “small goat” roasted or baked in the oven with potatoes was the main dish. Also the tomato sauce was cooked with goat meat for the flavour on the spaghetti and the new salami were fried with eggs and ricotta cheese.
This contributed to strengthen the ties of affection and friendship among ourselves and went on until the evening. On the way home we used to wish to each other to spend many more of this days in the years to come.
The typical sweet of Easter was "the curujia "(local dialect), sweet of dough risen, containing one or more boiled egg, to which it was given a round shape or other fantasy shapes and among us boys we would confront to verify who had it in greater number. In the ingredients there was some lard and we could not have it Good Friday as we could not eat things with meat.
I cannot write anything about the "Cunfrunta ", as when that started I went away and I dont know much about it.
Written from: "Ntuoni Miletta, lu figghjiu of 'Ngiluzzu of lu Murgiu and of Cunzulatejia of Rose of lu Maduonnu "