Sunday, April 4, 2010


For the last ten years or so, I have rarely celebrated Easter with my family.  It has always been too much of a hassle to get home on a holiday weekend that isn't a long weekend.  When I was in school, I'd always spend the weekend studying for upcoming finals.  So, in general, Easter has never been a happening holiday.

The two exceptions to this have both been in Italy.  In 2005, I was living in Rome for Easter.  This was the start of the most fascinating month I ever spent in Rome, as Pope John Paul II died just a few days later.  But that is a story for a different time.

My favorite Easter was in 1999.  While Easter Day is reserved for traditional family and religious celebrations, Easter night and the following day (known as Pasqueta) are more party than Papal. In 1999, I was living in Esenta di Lonato, a small town in northern Italy, as a high school exchange student.  The town had a population of only around 500 people and was surrounded by wooded hills.

The Pasqueta tradition in Esenta is for friends to go up and camp on the hills.  My friends invited me to go up with them.  We had all the traditional camping things, like a camp fire and booze (booze is traditional, right?).  We also had a guitar and they all sang Italian songs.  What I loved most about the night was that it was the first night my Italian started to click in.  I had been in Italy for a few months and combined with my inebriation, I really started to speak and understand for the first time.

The other fun thing were my feats of strength that night.  I brought some Budweiser with me, while most of the other beers were various European brands.  When I opened a Budweiser with my bare hands (it was a twist-off), everyone was flabbergasted.  So, I grabbed another one and did it again.  Then, I told my friend Play that he should try it - and I handed him a Heineken (not a twist-off).  He, obviously, couldn't twist it off.  So, I grabbed another Bud to show him how to do it again - and then he tried again on the Heineken.  I was able to keep up the ruse for over half an hour.

Pasqueta 1999

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