The week that leads to Easter Sunday is for the Christian faith “the Holy Week”. In Italy, like Spain and other Catholic countries Easter is very much celebrated even more than Christmas.
There are many processions going on and they can be very powerful. You don’t need to be religious to enjoy them.
A very popular one is in Lanciano, in the region of Abruzzo. It can look quite scary as hooded men, called Brothers, walk in single file around the town in the darkness wearing a black robe and holding a torch each. It ‘s the night of the Last Supper, the night of the betrayal of the Son of God, that’s the reason the Brothers are hooded, as an act of penance for being guilty of such a sin.
All the lights in town are switched off and one of the Brothers, hooded and barefoot, called Simon of Cyrene, whom no one knows the identity except the Prior, carries the heavy cross of Calvary through the streets of the historic centre.
The silence is broken by the sound of a tamurro, a drum which sounds mournful and a troccolante, used to fill the silence with a hollow rattle.
Then on Good Friday another very solemn procession takes place: after the symbols of the Passion, the beautiful wooden statue of Christ lying in his coffin is carried on the shoulders of the members Archconfraternity with their face uncovered. The procession is then closed by the band playing the ‘nineteenth-century funeral march composed by Masciangelo. The coffin is placed in the church of S. Chiara and a night vigil is held in which the brothers and the faithful take turns in the tomb.
On Easter day there is the Sacred Representation of Easter which takes place in the morning. The statue of St. John is carried in the main square, opposite the church of the Madonna del Ponte.
Easter is about the joy of the Resurrection: A lady in mourning, who represents the Madonna, when St. John announces the resurrection of her Son, she swaps her black dress for a green and white one. There is a flight of doves whilst the crowd cheers and bells communicate the joy.