With the Vatican just down the road, Easter Sunday is a big deal in Rome. However, Easter Monday in Italy is also a national holiday known as Pasquetta (little Easter).
The formal name for Easter Monday in Italy is actually Lunedì dell’Angelo. In the Catholic calendar, this Monday holiday recalls the meeting between the women who visited Jesus’ tomb and an angel who comforted them when they found it empty.
While there is a clear religious origin of the holiday, it is also a state holiday in Italy. Government offices, schools, and many private businesses all remain closed (usually from Good Friday through Easter Monday in order to create a four-day weekend).
But how do you celebrate?
Well, Italians traditionally mark Pasquetta with a picnic.
There is a saying that goes:
Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi.
Essentially: “Christmas with your family, Easter with whomever you like.”
So across the country, Italians make plans with friends and family to take advantage of the newly arrived spring weather and head for the countryside. (I personally like to use the extra day off for a day trip and have gone to Siena and Narni on Easter Monday in the past).
Those who picnic on Pasquetta bring portable grills or foods that are easy to serve like a frittata. But it is also popular to book a table in rustic restaurants outside of the city to dine on local cured meats, cheeses, pasta, and seasonal dishes such as lamb.
In some parts of the county, Easter Monday is also marked with unique traditions such as an egg cracking competition in Emilia-Romagna or a cheese rolling contest known as ruzzola.
Pasquetta is the unofficial kickoff of the spring season in Italy – so however you celebrate, make sure to spend some time outside!
There is no set date for Easter Monday in Italy due to the fact that Easter moves every year. Pasquetta is simply always the day after Easter Sunday.