I’m gearing up for my first Calabrian Easter celebration with my new bambino. Yes, my husband and I have done the traditional American Easter Basket vs. Italian Chocolate Egg thing in the past and we’re planning on continuing our Easter traditions, plus one. The weather is warming up and if it holds, we’ll spend an hour or so this afternoon at Catanzaro’s A’naca-Good Friday-processional.
This post originally appeared in 2008 but it sums up exactly what I love so much about the Easter celebrations in Calabria.
How many of you have ever been to church on Good Friday…you know, the Stations of the Cross service? How many of you have ever seen the Stations of the Cross – live?
Well, now I have.
Last Friday, yes…Good Friday to be exact was A’ Naca in downtown Catanzaro. Held every year, this processional reenacts the Stations of the Cross, stopping momentarily in front of several important churches throughout the city, while circling the downtown area.
We arrived just in time for the beginning – at exactly 4:26 PM. The church was already crowded, and there were several miniature Mary’s dressed for the occasion. There were four 10-foot crosses propped on their sides, and a confessional-full of other props and decorations just waiting to be needed
Finally, we overheard…
“6:00? 6:00? It is going to start at 6:00? How will we keep the children occupied for that long?”
“Children?” I thought.
“How will I keep my husband occupied that long?”
And, so, in typical southern Italian style, we watched with interest the disorganization and scurrying around us. At 6:00, they opened the church doors and I saw this.
Hundreds, if not more, Calabrese anxiously awaiting – despite the cold wind and sub-Easter temps for the processional to begin.
My shock was momentarily distracted by the arrival of the star, who appropriately bent his head in solemn preparation for his big role as he pushed past the spectators to the front of the church.
After another half hour, they were ready to begin.
Musicians, clad in matching black and gold robes, heralded the commencement of A’Naca, as droves of clergymen and members from the various churches throughout Catanzaro began the processional. They strode out in groups, dressed in pastel colors of blue, pink or beige, representing their different churches.
Just before the final Stations, the Bishop appeared and along with other church officials, read a declaration.
Jesus is raised from the dead, and in undoubtedly the most dramatic point of the event, Catanzaro’s firemen heave the alter above their heads, as the crowd of onlookers gasp in amazement. Everyone cheers and a few women, standing bundled on the blistery street, dab at their eyes.
The processional ends with Mary, who while rejoicing in the salvation of her son, is carried throughout the streets of Catanzaro …
as dozens of young girls, dressed in like-clothing accompany her for the journey.