Easter and the Holy Week (“La Settimana Santa”) that precedes it is pretty much the most important festival in Sardinia, even more important than Christmas.It goes to show that the locals call Christmas “Pasqua di Natale” or “Easter of Christmas”.
“S’Incontru” or “the meeting”
Easter Sunday in Oliena is one of the highlights, “S’Incontru” or “the meeting” as it’s called in Sardinian. After the resurrection of Christ, he re-unites with Mary. Two parades with the two statues leave after Mass from two different churches. For this special occasion the people who participate wear their colourful local costume.
S’Incontru takes place in the town square, the parades cover the last few meters on the herbs sprinkled over the street before they stop facing each other in the middle of the crowd. The bearers of the images kneel three times and the statues, still facing eachother move up and down three times. Then Mary turns around and both of them leave in the same direction to the church of Santu Lussurgiu, patron saint of Oliena.
All this is accompanied by the deafening noise of sixty-odd shotguns and pistols that are being emptied in the air for at least 20 minutes. The gunmen are standing on balconies and rooftops surrounding the square, and shoot in the air to scare away the evil spirits that might interfere with this important event. Afterwards the bystanders collect some of the herbs to make a small bouquet to bring home.