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Cuicina Molisana -- Easter Monday Celebrations -- Personal Recollections
Originated from: Casacalenda, Campobasso
Occasion: Easter Monday
Contributed by: Mary Melfi; image courtesy of the New York Public Library, Digital Gallery #498919

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Prior to World War II (and perhaps still to this day) Southern Italians celebrated Easter Monday ("la pasquetta") by going to the countryside and having picnics. This was called "la scampagnata." Generally the weather was warm enough for people to eat out in the open. Obviously, left-overs from the special Easter holiday meal were packed; extended families went up to the mountains or to their farm houses and there had a good time. Children brought along the traditional giant Easter cookies they had been given as gifts on Easter Sunday. The giant Easter cookies which came in the shape of bridal dolls, baskets, braided logs, donkeys, and stars were very popular as they were only made at this time of the year. In Casacalenda (according to my father and mother) the "carosello" which was presented in the shape of a circle and the "spousi" cookies were the cookie shapes that were the most frequently made. The "carosello" were given to boys; the "spousi," to girls. On Easter Monday many parents gave gifts to their children's teachers. Often the gift baskets included home-made foods such as sausages and cheese, as well as the traditional giant Easter cookies that were decorated with hard-boiled eggs and sprinkles. Prior to World War II the lowly egg was considered a special treat, mostly because eggs at that time were rather expensive (Those farmers who raised chickens only kept about half a dozen of the animals so eggs were in short supply). Those children who were lucky enough to get the traditional giant Easter cookies enjoyed the hard-boiled eggs as much as the cookies (Peeling the shell off the egg was a real delight, I'm told).

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