Christian Easter week, is celebrated throughout the Mediterranean with processions and re-enactments.
The best known procession of the Mysteries in the area is the Good Friday procession in Trapani, which has a very long tradition and has also managed to marry with the city’s other tourist attractions. In Erice the procession itself has a much more intimate dimension that still leaves room for the original spirituality that gave rise to it centuries ago.
The “vare,” which carry the wooden sacred groups, number only seven and are smaller than their Trapani cousins. They represent the topical moments of the Way of the Cross (list). Each “vara” was entrusted to a professional category that was responsible for its restoration and floral decorations, and the class to which it belonged still appears on the edge of the vara itself.
Over the years, however with the changing social order and the decline of some trades, the name of the original class was juxtaposed with that of a more generic group of professionals. The Erice Mysteries are kept at the church of San Giuliano from which the procession opens in the early afternoon of Good Friday. Led by altar boys and the town’s parish priest, the Mysteries pass through the church door and into the churchyard on the shoulders of faithful pallbearers, who will lead the sacred groups through the streets of Erice until evening, when the vara return to their safe haven.
A tiny vara on which stands …. It closes the procession.
It is the vara of the “picciriddi”: the children of Erice who are happy and proud to lend their support to the local religious tradition.