A profane legend exalts the sweetness of a gesture considered sacred. On the occasion of Palm Sunday, in the Sorrento Coast, people bless and exchange branches or small trees of sugar-coated almonds.
All over the Sorrento Coast, the period of the Holy Week – which ends with Easter – is rich in appointments able to give incomparable suggestions.
Just in this period, in fact, a number of processions (having more or less ancient origins) go along the streets of the Coast, reminding the most important stages of Christ’s Passion.
They alternate with church services, historical performances of the Stations of the Cross besides the re-proposing of rituals whose origins are lost in the mists of time.
Right at the beginning of the Holy Week – on the occasion of Palm Sunday – for example, there is the tradition of blessing olive branches, sometimes decorated with coloured ribbons, small cheeses and sugar coated almonds.
Actually, still today, in the Sorrento Coast a habit is alive, that is the one able to mix holy traditions and profane legends: lots of people, in fact, at the time of blessing their palms, show sugar-coated almond ones. They are branches or small trees made with the only use of sugar-coated almonds. Through them, people want to exalt an aspect: the desire to strengthen, in a tangible way, the sweetness characterizing the exchange of peace gestures, which is symbolically expressed by giving palms.
According to popular tales, in fact, sugar-coated almonds would have arrived for the first time in the Sorrento Coast thanks to a Saracen woman (got to the Coast on the occasion of the Turkish siege in 1558) who wanted to express her gratefulness towards a fisherman from Sorrento who had saved her life.
Right this peace gesture - able to express also a sense of deep gratefulness – would give rise to the tradition of sugar-coated almonds.
Apart from the reliability of the legend, however, right this tradition – together with the so many which are handed down from generation to generation – contributes towards making the atmosphere – breathed in the whole Sorrento Coast at Easter – particularly suggestive and towards giving it further originality.