Rick Steves’ European Easter: Celebrations Across Europe

[ Bells tolling ] It’s a new day, filled with promise both
spiritually and metaphorically. Flowers trumpet
the full bloom of spring, and the earth reawakens
from its winter slumber. Back in Spain, the sun rises
above a serene Sevilla. It’s peaceful
after so many parades and ritual-filled days
of Semana Santa. Now, families simply enjoy
time together. In contrast, back in Italy,
in Florence, the pageantry has yet to peak. Easter Sunday starts
with a grand parade. A lumbering, decorated wagon is dragged
by white oxen through town as it has been
since medieval times. The procession ends
at the steps of the cathedral, where a crowd has gathered,
filled with anticipation. At the end of the Mass, a mechanical dove,
representing the Holy Spirit, rockets from the high altar
directly into the cart, igniting fireworks. It’s a spectacular way
to announce the Resurrection. And back at the Vatican, St. Peter’s Square
is once again filled as this 2,000-year-old tradition is celebrated
with another huge Mass, bringing together
an international crowd and a global audience. In addition to St. Peter’s, worshipers fill venerable
churches throughout Rome, which are busy with
Easter Masses all day long. As is the case
everywhere in Christendom, communities come together with
splendid, yet dignified fanfare, all to celebrate
the Resurrection and the promise of salvation. ♪♪ And then, as if famished by all
the processing and church-going, across the lands families settle down
to ritual feasts. It seems the gift of Easter
and the promise of spring brings out a deep-seated urge to gather loved ones together
and embrace life in its fullest. Throughout Italy,
Easter Sunday is a special time for family and friends
to celebrate the good news. Sacred traditions
rich with symbolism survive most vividly
in tiny villages. Grandmothers make holiday rolls
called ciambelle. With a gentle touch, the dough is kneaded
and then shaped into rings. The ring shape represents
the Crown of Thorns. Meanwhile,
grandfather tends the oven with wood from his olive trees. When the coals are just right, the ciambelle arrive,
as if on cue. And drawing from the practice
of a lifetime of Easters, they’re cooked to perfection. In his cellar,
he cuts a cured pork salami, hung there to dry especially
for this Easter breakfast. As all generations gather,
the feast begins. Grandfather slices
his prized salami. He blesses the occasion
with a toast. MAN: [ Speaking Italian ] STEVES: Eggs and a variety
of holiday breads are shared. [ Laughter ] The ciambelle are served with
a small glass of vin santo, again recalling
the body and blood of Jesus. On Easter Sunday, it seems everyone has
a place to be, and I’m fortunate
to join friends in this Tuscan farmhouse. To be so far from my own home
and loved ones yet feel so welcome
with this family is a memory I’ll treasure
for the rest of my Easters. And after the meal, the kids,
so obedient at the table, are now free to storm
their chocolate eggs for the gift
traditionally hidden inside. [ Cheering ] Joining the parents
and grandparents looking on, we all recall similar Easter
moments from our childhoods. [ Indistinct conversations ] BOY: Grazie. MAN: Prego. STEVES: And in Rome, older celebrants embrace
the holiday egg theme as well. Enjoying a personal moment as an extravagant
Easter banquet awaits, Antonello gives Manuela
her big chocolate egg. MANUELA: [ Laughs ] STEVES: She discovers her gift, a celebration of their love
and commitment to each other. ANTONELLO: [ Speaking Italian ] STEVES: In Slovenia, family and friends
have also gathered. The Easter table
is laden with food thoroughly blessed
the day before. There’s a timeless joy
in this intimate scene, as parents laugh together, children do the serious work
of cracking eggs, and a grandmother cradles
her baby granddaughter trying to make sense
of her first Easter. And after a long winter
and Lent, it seems like there’s more
than enough ham and potica to last through spring. Children across cultures,
probably yet to appreciate all this resurrection
and rebirth symbolism, certainly know the excitement
of an Easter egg hunt. Back in Greece, this community has organized one
in the town park. It’s a mad scramble to find
as many eggs as possible as quickly as possible. And as is so often the case, the tearful little one
who missed out gets a little extra love. In villages all across Greece, families are grilling lamb, eating, singing, and dancing. ♪♪ It seems there’s a spring lamb
on a spit in every backyard. The roast takes hours,
but no one’s in a hurry. It’s an all-day affair. People move between households, checking on each other’s lambs
and socializing. When the spit stops,
the feast begins. Lamb off the bone, lamb off the fingers, beer, wine, music, more food, more fun, more lamb. People party all day long. Eventually, the village
ends up back at the church, dancing and singing. Together, they celebrate as they have every year
for all their lives, celebrating the hope of renewal at yet another joyous
Easter Sunday. I’ve always enjoyed
how exploring other cultures brings more meaning
to my own cherished traditions. I hope this holiday journey has given new meaning
to your Easter as it has mine. I’m Rick Steves. Thanks for joining us,
and Happy Easter.

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  1. happy Easter Rick. I am from Indonesia, love all your video about travelling. pls come to Indonesia and make wonderful travelling video here.

  2. How wonderful it must be to experience all these cultures. Thank you so much for sharing and hope you are having a fantastic Easter.


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