Religion plays a great part in the lives of the Sicilian people. Major religious festivals are celebrated in a unique manner with each festival having its own, unique characteristics. When this is combined with everything else that makes the Sicilians so special - their food, wine and warm and outgoing nature - then you have the perfect recipe for the perfect holiday. |
If you’re considering Sicily holidays sometime during the year, then Easter could be the perfect time to book a great hotel and take the entire family on a trip they’ll remember for years to come.
Celebrating the Resurrection of Christ
Easter celebrates the resurrection of Christ after His crucifixion. As you would expect, this is a time for huge celebrations all across this magical island. From the smallest villages high in the mountains to the largest towns on the coast, people take to the streets in colourful processions, winding their way to the local church or cathedral where special prayers are said to commemorate this auspicious occasion. Each community has its own special way of celebrating, but nearly all include marching bands, flags, colourful light displays at night, fireworks and ornate, colourful floats, often carried by the townspeople, depicting religious themes.
Not to Miss Easter Events
Getting from place to place in Sicily isn’t really a problem. You can hire a car, the proverbial Italian “Vespa”, or even take a taxi. That’s why we’ve included here some of the more interesting events from all across the island. If you’re not sure how to get there, ask the concierge at your hotel.
The Mysteries of Trapani
On the eastern edge of the island, not too far from Palermo, is Trapani. Trapani has a lot to offer during your Easter Sicily holidays and even has its own international airport serving Dublin, Luton and other European destinations. At Easter, however, the town becomes the site for one of largest and most colourful celebrations in the island when it becomes the stage for what can only be described as one of the most magnificent Passion Plays in Europe, which has been staged every year since 1621.
20 outstanding floats, depicting scenes from the Passion and death of Jesus, are carried through the town by hundreds of the town’s men, stopping at several locations for blessings and prayers. The floats are accompanied by huge flags and marching bands that the men follow in a step called the “annaccata”. All in all: a spectacular show of light, sound, colour and emotion!
The Mysteries begin their journey from the Baroque Church of Anime Sante del Purgatorio at 2pm on Good Friday and return there the following day at approximately the same time.
The Dance of the Devils
For a totally different experience, go to Prizzi, in the hills south of Palermo. Here, on Easter Sunday, you will witness the Dance of the Devils. The people of the town, wearing satanic masks in red and black complete with horns and grotesque noses, accost people in the streets, demanding that they buy them a drink. Other townsfolk, dressed as angels, confront the “devils” and protect the innocent bystanders. In the ensuing celebration, the devils end up paying for the drinks and handing out the traditional “cannateddi” cake.
On the western side of the island, on Easter Sunday, in the town of Adrano (on the south-west slopes of Mount Etna) they celebrate the "Diavolata". A stage is erected in the main square where the powers of Heaven and Hell battle as the Angles strive to force the devil to say “Viva Maria” (Mary the Mother of Christ). Things can get quite heated but, in the end, the forces of good triumph over those of evil.
Archi di Pasqua (Easter Arches)
Every year, in San Biagio Platani in the south-west, two rival religious factions, the ‘Madunnara' (The Madonna) and the 'Signurara' (The Lord), secretly plan and construct a series of arches, domes, fountains, bell towers and more that they erect on Easter Sunday. The colourful, decorative arches made from a variety of materials including bread, vegetables and cereals are spread around the centre of the town, mimicking the traditional layout of a church - and they’re a sight to see. Needless to say, the aim of both of the groups is to construct displays that outdo the other.
Last But Not Least – Food
None of your Sicily holidays would ever be complete without some delicious food – and Easter is no exception. Many towns and villages have their own special treats in store for you, but look out for Martorana marzipan shaped and painted to resemble all kinds of fruit. Cassata - a rich cake made of sweetened ricotta cheese, marzipan and candied fruit - can be found in every café and restaurant. Again, tap into the local knowledge of your hotel concierge - they will be able to point you in the right direction for a food feast.
John Dixon is Managing Director of Prestige Holidays and visits Italy at least twice a year. If you’re looking for Sicily holidays with a luxurious edge, John has 30 years of experience organising some of the UK’s most well-regarded trips to this region and other destinations worldwide.
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