Archive for eggs


April has some of the best skies ever. Actually, so do the other eleven months.

However you  may have been observing the past six weeks of penitence, Easter is now steaming into port with the pilot onboard and will be here in three days.

Special Spring Bonus: Click here (11042001) if you would like to hear a small soundtrack of the blackbird chorus outside the window every morning before dawn.

Older Venetians remember a bit of rhyming versification which highlighted each Sunday of Lent by attaching it to one of the miracles of Jesus.

I have no information whatever on how this started, who came up with it, or anything else other than its now-fading existence.  By doing some random research (fancy way of saying “asking around”), I discover that children are no longer taught this bit of lore.  In fact, so far I haven’t been able to nab anyone of any age in this neighborhood who’s ever heard of it, so perhaps it’s a relic of life in long-ago Dorsoduro.

Therefore this missive may be one of the few places to acknowledge this fragment of tradition before the last traces are gone.

It goes like this:  Uta, Muta, Cananela/Pane e Pesce, Lazarela/ Oliva/Pasqua Fioriva.

It is pronounced:  OO-ta, MOO-ta, Canna-NAY-a/ PAN-eh eh PEH-sheh, YA-za-RAY-ah/oh-YEE-va/PAS-kwa fyoh-REE-va.

The significance of these gnomic utterances is as follows:

Uta:  I don’t know.  This is a bad start, but I am still researching this curious word by means of any elderly Venetians and/or priests I can find.  It hasn’t been easy, which only proves that this verseology is on its last legs. Perhaps “uta” refers to one of the many healing miracles: bleeding, or blindness, or demon-possession, or paralysis, or dropsy. You can take your pick until further notice.

Muta: The healing of the man mute from birth (Mark 7: 31-37).

Jesus and the Samaritan woman in a window at Bolton Priory (photo by Lawrence OP).

Cananela: My sainted sister-in-law (age 82) maintains that this refers to the meeting of Jesus with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well (John 4: 4-26). She is very firm on that, even though it wasn’t technically a miracle, but seeing as the reading for the Third Sunday is, in fact, that passage, I think we can consider the matter settled.

Pane e Pesce: “Bread and fish,” clearly a reference to the Feeding of the Multitude (Matthew 14: 13-21; Mark 6: 31-44; Luke 9: 10-17; John 6: 5-15; Mark 8: 1-9; Matthew 15: 32-39).

Lazarela: The resurrection of Lazarus (John 11: 1-46).  Makes a nice rhyme.  Also worth remembering for its own self.

The raising of Lazarus, in a mosaic of the basilica of Sant' Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna (6th c. AD).

Oliva: “Olive.”  Although here, as in many other places, they call the Sunday before Easter “Palm Sunday” (Mark 11: 1-11; Matthew 21: 1-11; Luke 19: 28-44; John 12: 12-19), or “Domenica delle Palme,” the fronds distributed in church aren’t palm, but olive.  This is very lovely, considering the ancient link between the olive branch and peace, and the various Gospel accounts only agree on the fact that clothes were spread on the ground before Jesus’ feet. Obviously nobody has ever thought of calling it “Clothes Sunday,” so I’m just going to leave that alone.  We get olive twigs, take it or leave it.  In Latvia they use pussy willows.

At the entrance to the church of San Francesco di Paola (as in most, if not all, the other churches here), olive branches are set out in two forms: wild and natural, or small and packaged. One keeps the branch till next Palm Sunday; in the old days, to treat a really serious wound or illness you would have burned the branch and used the ashes as prescribed by your neighborhood wonderworker.


This is the convenient packet which fits easily into your purse, glove compartment, or wherever you feel it belongs.

The first Palm Sunday procession, containing all the important details, as depicted in the basilica of San Marco.


A central arch in the basilica of San Marco shows the most concise illustrations imaginable of the Easter story, from trial to crucifixion. In the center is the crowning moment, without which there would be no Easter: The empty tomb.

Pasqua Fioriva: “Easter Bloomed.”  That certainly needs no exegesis. (Matthew 27: 27-56; Luke 23: 26-49; John 19: 16-37).

"Flowering Easter" is represented in our neighborhood by a veritable mob of blooming botanicals. Here, redbud ("Judas tree") and laurel.

The wisteria is totally out of control.

What the sea pines may lack in color they certainly make up for with pollen.


A bit of meteorological magic holds that “Se piove sulle olive/ Non piove sui vovi” (If it rains on the olives, it won’t rain on the eggs). Meaning that if it rains on Palm (excuse me, Olive) Sunday, it won’t rain on Easter.  Much as it distresses me to give any credence to this sort of thing, I have seen it turn out to be true something like 95 percent of the time.  I can’t explain it.







And what would Easter be without cute animals and chocolate?


Or better yet, cute animals OF chocolate.













Our neighborhood is a veritable Easter menagerie. Here, an existentialist Easter bunny who looks apprehensive and somehow estranged from his fellow furry harbingers.




The Ur-hen, the prototype of Paschal poultry. Now we know where all those eggs come from.








Children nowadays don't know how lucky they are. When I was a kid, Easter frogs hadn't been invented. I think frogs themselves hadn't been invented.

I discern a link between milk chocolate and an Easter cow. But what is an Easter squirrel bringing to the table? Easter acorns?
















I wonder how many Venetian children risk being traumatized by devil-spawn Persian-green rabbits clutching their tiny progeny?









Let's get back to something we can all agree on: Chocolate. And no squabbling over "dark" versus "milk." The Ur-hen is ambidextrous. Anyway, there are enough sugar-flowers here to send everybody into shock.






























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