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Easter in Sicily

In the footsteps of masses and processions you will experience authentic Easter feelings in Sicily

Bread Arches of San Biagio Platani

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The "Archi di Pasqua" Festival is the spectacular and evocative outcome of an artisan-craft competition, unique in Sicily. For many weeks, before Easter, the confraternities of the "Madunnara" (devotees to the Madonna) and the "Signurara" (devotees to Jesus), are engaged in the construction of imposing compositions of reeds and ferles; these act as frameworks for magnificent artistic decorations of citrus, laurel and especially bread, in the most varied shapes and sizes. The grandiose artistic constructions, of arches, domes, and bell towers are then arranged along the avenue Umberto I, the main street of the town: the extraordinary refinement of the decorations, combined with the evening lighting transform San Biagio Platani, in the province of Agrigento, a  sumptuous and welcoming open-air living room. The top of the event takes place on Easter Sunday, when the Christ and the Madonna meet in front of the Mother Church.

The Procession of the Mysteries of Trapani

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The Procession of the Mysteries of Trapani is a procession of the passion  with twenty allegorical wooden floats, canvases  and glue sculptures of individual scenes of the events of the Passion.  The passion plays an important role during the Holy Week in Trapani. The Mysteries are among the oldest religious events in continuous execution in Europe, having been performed every Good Friday since before Easter of 1612, and running for at least 16 hours continuous, but sometimes well over 24 hours, they are the most religious holiday long in Sicily and in Italy.

The Devils dance in Prizzi


In rituals that have distinctly medieval origins, villagers dress up as demonic looking creatures and dance through the streets, wearing bizarre costumes and masks, and do what is known as the Dance of the Devils.

A variety of re-enactments of the Passion take place throughout the week, culminating in the Easter Sunday takeover of the town by these devils, who try to prevent the effigies of Jesus and Mary from meeting.  They are accompanied by a villager who plays the embodiment of Death, and while they always lose (naturally), it is reported that the villagers tend to be more excited by the dancing devils than by the arrival Jesus himself.  In these plays, Jesus is represented by a villager riding a horse.

Holy Thursday in Marsala. " Via Crucis "

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Significant moment among the rites of Holy Week in the province of Trapani is the Via Crucis of Thursday with living characters parading through the main streets of the city of Marsala, interpreting the roles with great emotional involvement. Suggestive are the "falls" of Christ with the cross, which are repeated many times along the way. A moving representation of the Crucifixion also takes place on the evening of the same day. Very popular is the Friday procession with the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows following the dead Christ.

The Holy Week of Enna

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The Holy Week of Enna is among the most spectacular and full of pathos in the world. On Good Friday the city is involved with 2,500 confreres who parade, together with the municipal administration and the Clergy. In the 16 churches, headquarters of confraternities, the objects that will be carried in procession are prepared. The Holy Week is rich in history and symbols related to the customs that have been handed down for centuries, even from the period of Spanish domination. Among the symbols the visor of the confreres that today is brought down, contrary to the past that, by law, was brought up. The musical band accompanies the processions with sad notes, written by Enna composers.

Pietraperzia. Lu Signuri di li fasci

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The soul of "lu Signuri di li fasci" is a cypress wood beam, ending in a cross. The beam is 8.50 meters high with all the "vara". It is carried outside the church of the Carmine towards the sunset and left in a horizontal position in the esplanade in front of the church itself. Then a circular metal structure is affixed to the top of the beam. Shortly thereafter the faithful approach the cross and begin to knot a number of white linen canvas strips of about 32 meters in length and about 40 centimeters wide. To tie the band, the faithful must present to the confreres an entry ticket that serves to record the number of bands. The function of the bands will be to allow the faithful to keep the long wooden pole in balance along the processional path. Meanwhile, inside the church of Carmine, another traditional act takes place whose origin is unknown: a member of the confraternity all afternoon is busy laying out, on the body of the Crucifix, red ribbons, called "measureddi" (small measures) that so blessed, come, bound by the faithful to the forearm or ankle. Shortly before the start of the procession, it is placed on top of the cross, an ancient and miraculous Crucifix. Moving the synchronic passage of the Crucifix from one hand to the other ("a ppassamànu") of the confreres arranged in a chain inside the church of the Carmine; and this in order to send the Crucifix from the place where it is held in the afternoon for the traditional blessing of "li measèddi", up to the outside of the entrance to the Church where the cross is already ready to be raised. 

San Fratello. The Feast of the Jews

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In San Fratello, in the province of Messina, Wednesday, Thursday and Good Friday in a mix between the sacred and the profane the Jewish festival takes place. The origin of this tradition dates back to the Middle Ages and contains in perfect symbiosis faith and folklore. It began in 1276 with the "Brotherhood of Flagellants", today more numerous and called Jews. Their polychrome clothing is varied and strange, as strange are their behavior and their unbridled acts. The costume consists of a jacket and red trousers, adorned on the sides with strips of cloth of another color. The head is completely covered by a hood, also red, and from the mask dangles a large tongue of shiny skin that, together with a large mouth and two very long eyebrows, give the mask a grotesque and monstrous air. At the feet the Jews wear shoes in rough leather or "fur shoes" and in their hands they have bunches of wide-meshed chains and trumpets. The Feast of the Jews at San Fratello on Good Friday for two days San Fratello goes crazy: the Jews, running, crossing roads, climbing walls, walking in dangerous balance on the edges of houses and balconies, jump, sound, flee and disappear, creating a real pandemonium, deafening and sometimes also frightening people.

Easter rites in Piana degli Albanesi

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Easter rites in Piana degli Albanesi are very suggestive. Clear is the strong link with the ancient belonging to the ethnic and Albanian tradition, perpetuated also in everyday life, in religious rituals and in the language. Here for over 500 years the ethnic, linguistic, cultural and religious characteristics of origin have been jealously preserved. The inhabitants of Piana degli Albanesi, thanks to their tenacity and their cultural and religious institutions, over the centuries have maintained their identity and their cultural roots such as customs, traditions, characteristic richly embroidered women's costumes, the language Albanian and the Byzantine Rite. The most beautiful day of Piana degli Albanesi is certainly Easter.

The Procession of the Mysteries in Erice

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The ancient tradition of the Procession of the Mysteries of Erice, which has medieval origins, this year will be revived to citizens and visitors who gather for the occasion numerous on the summit. The celebration of Good Friday in Erice is an event in which faith and tradition are condensed to give rise to the celebration of one of the most significant Christian rituals. The four eighteenth-century groups, of great artistic value made of wood, canvas and papier-mâché, depicting moments of the Via Crucis (Jesus in the garden, Jesus at the column, Jesus crowned with thorns, Jesus with the cross towards Calvary) precede the vara with the Crucifix, the urn with the dead Christ and Maria SS. Sorrowful, and all are carried on the shoulders of the various workers along the streets of Erice in a procession that alternates moments of prayer with funeral marches, creating breakers of profound spirituality and high emotion. The procession is formed by the Church of San Giuliano early in the afternoon of Good Friday, and after having walked the entire town, returns late at night to the suggestive light of hundreds of wind torches and between two wings of crowds to store in custody, all the shadow of the ancient naves, the precious sacred groups.

Easter in Caltagirone. "a Giunta"

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Of ancient tradition is "'A Giunta", dominated by a gigantic figure of Saint Peter who reaches Piazza Municipio from the homonymous Church, to go to meet the Risen Jesus and announce it to his mother Mary. From this meeting the denomination 'a Giunta. Easter Sunday in Caltagirone is a big and popular festival that takes place outdoors, through the city streets. It consists of two moments 'in Giunta (the meeting) and' in Spartenza (separation), during which the three simulacra of San Pietro, the Risen Christ and the Madonna meet and separate. Thousands of citizens and tourists attend from every corner of the square but above all the Scala Santa Maria del Monte looks like a huge audience where everyone goes to look for a place to admire the event. 'A Giunta, certainly the most significant and spectacular moment of the festival, is the result of a precise path: St. Peter, after leaving the church of the same name, after a short stretch of road, meets the Risen Christ with immense joy; both, going up the Via Infermeria and crossing Piazza Umberto, head towards Piazza Municipio - the real theater of the meeting - to give the happy announcement to the Madonna.

Scicli. Feast of the Living Man, "U Gioia"

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U Gioia, the Easter party in Scicli is one of the most beautiful Easter celebrations in Sicily. At the end of Holy Week, the mournful atmospheres are swept away by the festive atmosphere that awakens the spirits of the sciclitani and drags everyone into a vigorous procession that envelops men and things in a cloud of sounds and colors. It is the feast of Joy or of the Uomu Vivu.
The statue of the Risen Christ that the devotees carry in procession is called by the sciclitani the Uomu Vivu (Uomo Vivo) or 'u Gioia, the name well describes the feeling that animates the inhabitants and the atmosphere of the party. The magic of Easter in Scicli has enchanted many: painters, photographers, journalists and musicians. Among the best known artists to have lived the party is Vinicio Capossela, the songwriter has recorded the song Uomo vivo (Hymn to Joy) inspired by this party in which he participated in the first person mixing between porters and singing in the square.

Easter in Modica. "La Madonna Vasa Vasa"

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Easter Sunday is repeated the Feast of Our Lady Vasa Vasa, unmissable appointment for the Modicans and for the many visitors who invade the center of Modica every year. The main course manages to hardly contain the crowd of faithful who are assembling from the initial part of the course to the church of Santa Maria di Betlem to witness the traditional "kiss of the South" between the Madonna and the Risen Christ. Before this time, Our Lady and Christ seek each other throughout the avenue: the two simulacra are carried on the shoulders of the faithful.

Easter in Sinagra. Race of San Leone

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"'A Cursa' i Santu Liu": For hundreds of years the "Corsa" has characterized Easter Sunday in Sinagra. Easter Sunday is the evening when the statue of the Saint is carried in procession from the country church (Church of San Leone) to the village, with the characteristic crossing of the center carrying the statue of the saint on the shoulder and running. Young and old, all in a row, to carry on their shoulders the statue of the town's Patron, San Leone. A very evocative event that is repeated every year and records in Sinagra the presence of thousands of people, in addition to the residents, who with great enthusiasm honor San Leone who preferred Sinagra to the role of Bishop of Catania. The party continues on Easter Monday, with the procession of the Saint through the streets of the village, with a large influx of faithful; during the day there is also "Easter Monday Fair", in the past very much felt, as the citizens were making spring purchases.

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