Easter is one of the most cherished periods for the faithful. It starts in the night between the Shrove Tuesday and the Ash Wednesday by the display of the Quarantana in the old town center. It is a rag doll wearing black clothes and holding an orange pierced with seven hen feathers (representing the seven weeks of the Lent), it has a garlic necklace (to repulse the jinx) and a basket containing oil bottles and taralli (typical local products). On the Boxing Day the Quarantana is burned, this custom has two meanings: according to the pagan one she is the carnival widow and then black worn while according to the Christian one, she represents the period of abstinence waiting for the rebirth and the resurrection.
Follows the rite of the Pentolaccia that consists in breaking the piñata on the first Sunday of Lent.
Especially in countryside is celebrated the Segavecchia feast, during which a puppet similar to an old woman filled with fruit, sweets, cheese and salami is sawed.
On the Palm Sunday bundles of palms and olive branches are blessed, usually they are brought in the country and pierced in stone walls, symbolizing the benediction and hoping for the prosperity of the fields.
During the Holy Week a deep faith surrounds everything, and every day is characterized by a rite:
On Monday there is a big fair that in ancient times was important for selling cattle;
Tuesday is the day of prohibitions and the washing of the Mystery Crosses;
On Wednesday is completed the ornament of the canopies brought in procession and after placed in the churches to adorn the Altars of Repose.
Thursday is the day of the “Messa scerret”, namely the foot washing, and the visiting of churches to pray in front of their Altar of Repose. According to the tradition the faithful must visit five or seven churches ,as many as the sores of Christ or the sorrows of the Virgin. The Holy Week is also characterized by several processions. This custom has been introduced after the Catholic-Reformation , when holy orders began to set up this itinerant shows in order to educate and evangelize commoners. From the 18th century a great quantity of wooden statues has been commissioned to the Neapolitan workshops, later also papier-mâché statues made in Lecce were used because they were cheaper and lighter to be brought than the wooden ones. In Fasano take place as many processions as are the confraternities in the town that own the processional set of statues related to the Passion.
On Thursday take place the Processions of the Mysteries with the statues of “Cristo nell’orto degli ulivi” (Christ praying in the olive grove), carried by the Confraternity of SS.ma Maria del Rosario and “Cristo Flagellato”(Christ at the column), carried by the Confraternity Maria SS.ma Immacolata.
On Friday there are the processions of “Ecce Homo”, carried by the Third Order of St. Francis; “Cristo sotto la croce”(Christ Carrying the Cross) and “Cristo spirante”(Christ expiring), carried by the Confraternity of Santissimo Sacramento; “La Pietà”, carried by the Confraternity of Santa Maria della Salette and San Francesco da Paola; “Cristo morto”(Dead Christ) , carried by the Confraternity of the Assunta; and “l’Addolorata”(Our lady of Sorrow), carried by the Confraternity of Purgatorio. During all the day the strong smell of the focaccia stuffed with onions or sponzali (obtained from the bulbs of the onion) spreads in the streets of the town, it is prepared following the ancient recipe and is the typical dish eaten on the Good Friday.
Saturday is the day of the silence, no mass is celebrated waiting for the announcement of the Resurrection in the night between the Saturday and the Sunday. After the mass many groups of young people go trough the streets of the town and in the country singing “U Sàbbate Sànte” (the Holy Saturday) and asking for some eggs. For this reason it is also called canto di questua (begging song).
On Sunday, after the mass takes place the procession with “Cristo Risorto”(the resurrection of Christ), carried by the Confraternity of San Giuseppe.
On the Easter Monday people usually make a day trip.
On the following Thursday the faithful go to Pozzo Faceto in order to honor the Madonna del Pozzo, patron of Fasano.