Pesach is the one of the biggest festivals in Jewish calendar celebrated by Jewish community all across the globe. The Pesach festival is celebrated to commemorate the freedom of the Jews from oppression and slavery under the Egyptians over 3000 years ago. This weeklong festival begins on 15th day of the Nisan month of the Hebrew calendar. The Pesach festival is being celebrated all across the world and each country offers unique tradition of celebrating Pesach festival. Italy, too, offers a rich tapestry of Jewish cultural expressions apart from its unparalleled natural beauty and remarkable artistic achievements. The major elements of the festival include family gatherings, the Seder meal, feasting and making merry. The Jews there celebrate this day in the traditional way, though there are some exceptions to the rules and rituals. Explore more on how Pesach is celebrated in Italy in the write-up here.
Passover Celebrations In Italy
The Arrival Of The Jews In Italy
Since the arrival of Jews in Italy in 2nd century BC, the tradition of celebrating Pesach festival has been assimilated into culture of Italian Jews. Italian Jews have developed their own unique style and tradition of cooking Pesach dishes. Even though the basic tradition of serving the Seder meal remains the same, the traditional Seder plate is presented on the Seder table with great pomp, joy and merriment. Often the presentation of Seder meal is accompanied by singing traditional songs. The Seder meal consists of Italian styled Jewish delicacies such as carpione, carciofi alla romana and bresaola, matzoh lasagna, Haroset all'italiana, tortino di azzine, and insalata alla Sefardita. However, the universal Pesach tradition of cutting the middle of the three cakes of matza or the unleavened bread is observed in Italy with same fervor, devotion, gaiety and enthusiasm.
Italian Pesach Delicacies
Pesach in Italy presents a unique blend of Italian Jewish culture and tradition. Scroll down to know about the Pesach celebration in Italy.
Passover in Italy
- Although the city of Venice, located in northeastern Italy, has been a hub of Jews, the Italian Jewish food is highly influenced by the Roman cuisine and is quite different from the Sephardic Jews of Spain and the Middle East as well as the Ashkenazy Jews of Northern and Eastern Europe.
- The Traditional Roman menu for Pesach begins with Haroset all'italiana, a paste-like mixture of ground dates, oranges, raisins and figs; carciofi alla romana and bresaola or air-cured beef with arugula and lemon; carpione, cubes of fried white fish marinated in an herb vinaigrette with caramelized onions; and stracciatella, an egg-drop soup. The main course of the Italian Seder includes tortino di azzine, matzoh lasagna made from vegetables and lamb together with insalata alla Sefardita, a salad of romaine, dill and green onions with red wine vinaigrette.
- The desserts generally comprise of ricciarelli di Siena and rich almond-paste cookies rolled up in powdered sugar.
Seder Table Ritual
- The Seder plate is brought to the Seder table with great honor covered with a beautiful scarf. The entire family members sing traditional songs to pay respect to it. Before placing it on the table, the plate is placed on a child's head and rotated allowing everyone to have a look of it. Three pieces of matzoh are tied in a napkin to form a little sack. The sack is then passed all around the table from shoulder to shoulder.
- A green onion, with long stems, is placed beside each member at the Seder table. This is picked up and wielded like a whip while singing Dayenu. While singing the chorus, the wrist of the person sitting next to a person is whipped with the onion on the stem.
Jewish Cathedral And Museum In Rome
- There are Jewish cathedrals of historical significance that you can visit in Rome during Pesach festival. Via della Reginella still stands majestically in front of the house number 2. In and around Via della Reginella, you can indulge in mouth-watering delicacies from Mama's cucina romana ebraica cookbook and yummy pastry at fast food stalls and shops.
- Via di Portico D'Ottavia synagogue, Museum dedicated to the history of Italian Jews and tiny church of San Gregorio are some of the interesting sites you can visit during Pesach festival. The church of San Gregorio is known as the only Catholic Church in the world with Bible verse inscribed in Hebrew and Latin on its façade.
So, celebrate Pesach in Italy and get yourself immerse in Italian Jewish's way of life to make your Passover delightful and memorable.