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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Italy Series at ItalianPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Italian holidays and observances. I’m Becky, and you're listening to Season 1 Lesson 5, Easter.
Have you ever received a chocolate egg as a gift? For Italians, the chocolate egg is a symbol of Easter. Easter is the most important festival in Christianity. It celebrates the resurrection of Jesus three days after his death.
As we’ll see in this lesson, Easter is very important in Italy. It’s also a national holiday and corresponds with the spring holidays.
Now, before we go into more detail, we’ve got a question for you. Do you know which tree symbolizes Easter in Italy?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Easter is celebrated on a different date each year because it’s a festival related to lunar cycles and the spring season. Though the date may differ, it’s always celebrated on a Sunday, exactly forty days after the end of Carnival. The festivities usually take place over the week leading up to Easter. During this time, the events surrounding Jesus' crucifixion and death are commemorated. Although it’s a religious festival, today it’s also a secular festival celebrated by all Italians.
In most Italian homes, a grand lunch is organized with family and friends on Easter Day.
According to tradition, Easter marks the end of a long period of fasting, so every dish is very rich. Such dishes typically include the Easter pizza from central Italy, and roast lamb with potatoes and artichokes. Of course, we can’t forget the Easter eggs, because eggs are a symbol of life and rebirth. Today they are made of chocolate, but in the past real eggs with decorated shells were used.
The day after Easter is called Easter Monday, or Little Easter, and it’s also a national holiday. For all Italians Easter Monday is an excellent opportunity to leave their homes and go out for a picnic in the countryside or visit some famous cultural sites. One of the most beautiful places Italians go to for picnics is the forest of St. Francis in Assisi, Umbria.
In Italy, when someone does a lot of cleaning they call it "spring cleaning"; in fact, in the past it was traditional to show respect for Jesus and to welcome the new season by cleaning the house from top to bottom before Easter.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
Do you know which tree symbolizes Easter in Italy?
It’s the olive tree, which is usually distributed among churches and churchgoers on Palm Sunday, a week before Easter, as a symbol of peace.
Well listeners, how was this lesson? Did you learn something new?
Is there a festival similar to the Italian Easter in your country?
Please leave a comment telling us at ItalianPod101.com.!
See you next time!