Wednesday, April 27, 2011
I can't even start to explain how different and wonderful the Easter holiday is here! I'll just give some basic details and then youll have to wait till we talk to here everything haha. Our break lasted from the thursday before to the tuesday after easter, and almost every day or night there was some kind of church tradition or event, and I'm far from Catholic but I really enjoyed them! I learned all about their history behind Easter and Pasquetta (the monday after, the celebration day after Jesus was resurrected).
Thursday:In the morning and afternoon I went to the sea to go swimming for the first time, which is always a big deal here. Everyone laughed when I told them I went cus its still so "cold" haha. Then that evening I went to mass with my host mom for Jesus' last supper before he was crucified, it was really beautiful, they sang and there was a biblical history to everything they did. I learned a lot of church "rules" or traditions as well, like the fact that I cant eat the wafer because Im not baptized, neither could my host mom cus she hadn't confessed in a year and that almost everyone goes the saturday before easter to confess. At the end we were then given each a loaf of bread we were supposed to take home share with our family. During the mass at the end they could Jesus' remains in a golden box and a scene around it, different for every church in the city. Then later that night around 930 we went out to visit this scene of all the churches in Mesagne, about 7 or 8. We finished around 1130 and it was beautiful, and for the first time I entered and saw all the churches of the town, which were amazing! I also learned how to do the cross on my head and shoulders (I finally asked how cus i always felt really awkward when the others did it and i didnt).
Friday: In the night there was a parade through the city called the " Misteri" of them carrying the cross and the dead Jesus through the street in a funeral like precession, with complete silence from everyone participating and observing. I personally thought it was kinda scary/creepy looking but interesting at the same time. Everyone was dressed in black and the children and women carried candles while 8 men carried two giant heavy statues through the streets for about 3 hours. Interesting. Never seen anything like it! In other towns close by it was a little different, in every town it is, bigger, smaller, but always pretty much like this one.
Saturday: Traditionally were not supposed to eat this day (and were not supposed to eat meat the whole week, except Sunday where its traditional to eat rabbit or lamb, because its written in the bible). We're not supposed to eat because we treat these days as if someone we knew really personally had just died, and normally we dont cook or eat much the few days after someone dies and thats why. But we ate anyways because in our family there are small children. Then that night there is another mass for the resurrection of Jesus, which I didn't go to because it ended at 2 in the morning and we had to get up early the next morning for Easter. For this day we also went to Mesagne's graveyard which is much different then those in the States, most commonly the bodies are in house type buildings, sometime a family owns one of these houses and puts all their family in it when they die, or there are the houses with families mixed, they are really amazing, walking through the graveyard feels like walking through a mini city. Some of these are really ancient as well, from hundreds of years ago. Here we visited as the deceased family members and friends of my host family.
Easter Sunday: We got up at 9 because we had to go visit family at their houses to wish them a happy Easter, we do these rounds for Christmas and then for Easter, to the family members that we dont see a lot, usually the older ones. We finished there, after us kids getting a few Euros and some kisses from great aunts and grandparents and went to an aunt's house for lunch. I don't even know where to start with the food! We ate mozzarella, prosciutto, eggplant and other little things for appetizers (already was getting full after this). Lasagna for the first plate, mine just normal and theres with meatballs. For the meat I had DELICIOUS salmon (VERY full after this) and they ate rabbit, lamb, and sausage. Then there was fruit, then pastries (what ill prolly miss most about Italy hahah) and then a lot of chocolate from the eater eggs, and then the traditional Easter cake in the shape of a dove (I didn't see the shape and neither did they haha) with chocolate type sauce. Im sure I'm missing something that we ate but I think thats pretty much it.
We then went home and chilled, I slept for two hours and then went out with some friends.
The next day, Pasquetta: Pasqua con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi, or something like that haha That I know of we don't have this day, at least not like the Italians. It's historically the celebration day after Jesus is reborn. For this day everyone goes with their friends to the ocean or to the countryside to have picnics and just have a nice day outside (even though they say that every year it rains this day). I went with my friends to Torre Regina, which is a big field where they play music and dance and its basically just like a hippy fest, so I felt at home right away! hahaha. It was my friends 18th birthday and we all had a really good day!:)
Tuesday: Then the last day of break! My AFS leader, Mr. Bianco, invited me and my family, the student volunteers from ym school, and the family of the Chinese student who also lives in our area (the girl from Norway wasn't able to come) to his house in the countryside close to the ocean. First of all Federica and I had an adventure getting to the house with the other teenagers with one of their cars and it was really fun haha and then when we got there we all played with the soccer ball a type of monkey in the middle, when my little host brother really got into it and annoyed everyone with his controlliness hahahaha :) We ate pasta with tomato sauce, the standard Italian lunch and then they BBQed meat and then we at some cake made by the other exchange student and some pastries. Yummy yum yummm!! After a bit we went to a cafe for an expresso and some crepes with nutella. Federica and I drove back with the same people and yet again laughed a lot and got home very tired.
The whole vacation and holiday was a great new experience where I really did learn a lot about this culture and I really enjoyed it. I've never followed organized religion, especially Christianity, but I can definitely appreciate the traditions and community it creates. I don't ever intend on start practicing any organized religion but I think what is really important to do, for everyone in the world, is to accept the different people, cultures, religions, and ideas other people have. We don't have to agree but I don't believe that we need to make conflict in order to change other people.
Yesterday I had an argument with a friend about the difference between Christians and Muslims, him not liking Islam and saying that Christianity is much more peaceful, and I argued that all religions are violent and that we can't generalize a religious group by only a few people, the dangerous out-of-control ones we here about on TV. This argument made me realize that I really need to have sources, information, and facts to back up my thoughts and beliefs, its not enough to just say what I think if I was people to actually consider what I have to say.
This week really was something ill remember happily and with great appreciation for what ive learned, and lots and lots of fun!
I hope everyone is doing wonderful! Thank you all and love you!