One of the oldest is the traditional visit to the sepulchres - sepolcri - which takes place on Holy Thursday.
How many of my readers remember visiting seven different churches on this evening as children ?
Check out the dark, underground crypts of churches like San Francesco in Vetralla and you will see these archaic "crops".
|sepolcri grow in the dark crypt of San Francesco, Vetralla|
About a month ago vases with wads of moist cotton were sprinkled with seeds and grains and then kept in the dark until the seeds sprouted. These sepolcri range in color from white filaments to light green and red, depending on which type of seeds were sown.
They are the perfect symbol for the Christian Easter celebration of resurrection and also connect the local population with its Etruscan heritage.
|San Francesco, Vetralla, crypt|
The use of the sepolcri dates to pre-Christian times and symbolizes the renewal of life in the spring.
See the story on my website about the recent discovery of the sanctuary of goddess Demetra in Vetralla.
|Good Friday procession of barefoot penitents in Tuscania|
In this last town the procession consists of groups of black-garbed men and women chanting ancient litanies (a use found only in the town of Blera) as they proceed along candle lit alleyways, and horsemen dressed as Roman soldiers .
It concludes with a realistic crucifixion scene in front of the main church.
Photo of the procession in Tuscania courtesy of Agostino Cecchini. More about local Easter rituals in "Etruria-travel, history and itineraries in Central Italy".