Easter closer to home and lighter for most Italians

Fewer eggs, less meat, more family, says consumer association

Easter closer to home and lighter for most Italians

(By Kate Carlisle) Rome, March 29 - Even though the saying goes 'Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con i vuoi' or 'Christmas with the family, Easter with who you like,' most Italians generally end up spending the Sunday celebrating the rebirth of Christ (and Spring) eating large and lavish meals together with their families. This year, even more so said consumer groups. In fact, over 80% of Italians are expected to remain at home this Easter as the economic crisis continues to bite, farmers' association Coldiretti said Friday. Tables this year will be lighter, as well. The traditional 'piece de resistance' of the meal that can last for hours, roast suckling lamb, will be missing from many tables. There will be 5% less meat served, specifically 10% less lamb, consumer group Fiesa said on Friday. For some, like animal rights group Nemesi Animale, that is good news. Overnight Thursday, Nemesis staged a display set out to shock passers by with three life-sized lamb puppets hung from a tree in Milan's XXIV Maggio square. The lifelike fake lambs were a "reminder of the 800,000 baby sheep slaughtered every year for Italian tables at Easter," the association said. In fact, crisis aside, six million vegetarians in Italy will not be having lamb or any other meat, Nemesis said. Another tradition that lands on tables for Easter is a national favorite, the Colomba - a golden cake made with almond and vanilla, with crackling sugar baked on top and shaped like a dove. However, Colomba purchases have also dropped - 7% according to Fiesa. The consumer group laments that even wine will flow a little slower, with Italian families consuming an estimated 3% less. Expenditure on food is estimated at 1.1 billion euros, down 10% over Easter 2012. Even the beloved chocolate eggs that show up in children's bags and baskets will be fewer and farther between. According to Coldiretti, 12% fewer kids and adults will munch down on their milk or dark chocolate treats compared to last year. Overturning the Spring break habit of taking a week off to go skiing or on a family holiday, day trips to local art cities or religious sites or to visit friends or family will see a boom this year as Italians look to cut back on overnight stays. Indeed traditional holidays are to see a 20% drop and restaurant meals will fall by 3%, Coldiretti said.

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