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Themes:     Culture & Tradition (18)    Events & Occasions (14)  
Tags:    Alta Badia     Dolomites     Ladin
Manuel Thursday, 10 April 2014

A Ladin Easter

Easter for the Ladini is an important celebration which traditionally lasts a week. But in Ortisei in Val Gardena it starts much earlier, in October on Saint James's day (San Giacomo). The young boys of the town present the girls with a pear and on Saint Joseph's day (San Giuseppe) on 19th March, they go back to the girls to whom they gave the fruit to order the Easter eggs. Once the pace of life was arranged according to the seasons and the fruit which those seasons produced. This is why the boys present the girls with the pears because October is the month of the pear harvest.
A Ladin Easter
“Religion and tradition: two words which mean culture, respect, memory and identity.”
The women prepare the eggs by cooking them and painting them with skill. They meet together in a home and mix the paint on a palette. And as they chat, they paint floral decorations, adding the date and words to bring good fortune. Red, blue, white, green: the eggs become tiny yet authentic works of art sometimes enveloped in embroidered white cloth and then arranged in small baskets. On Easter Monday the boys go back to the girls to collect their eggs. If no boy appears, a girl will bury the eggs so she doesn't become a spinster. Sometimes, just for fun, a boy will hide and not present himself to the girl until after she has buried the eggs. And then he reveals himself asking for the eggs.
Easter week is long and intense. In addition to the eggs, the women prepare traditional dishes, one of which is Fuiaccia, a sweet bread with raisins. Another typical Easter dish is ham with herbs. The bread and the ham are rolled around the egg in white embroidered cloth like a bundle and placed near the altar to be blessed. The men on the other hand arrange and prepare strange musical objects in wood which they play at the entrance to the church. On Easter Sunday, at the end of Mass, there is the egg fight. No, the eggs are not thrown but more simply you take one of the harder eggs from the basket and you hold it in your hand with the narrow part of the egg facing upwards. And then the fight begins. The contestants, one in front of the other, begin to jab at each other with the tip of the egg. The first to show any sign of cracking loses. The defeated contestant then gives his entire basket to the winner. Once, when food was scarce, this was a heartfelt battle. Now it is just a way to remember how we once were. Small things create not just an identity but a way for us to stay together. I still remember when my mother told me that an Easter bunny brought the chocolate eggs which were hidden in the garden and in the vegetable plot. And it is lovely to believe that again, just for a moment. Happy Easter to you all.

Manuel Dellago
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