Traditional Easter sweets: Calabrian Cuzzupe

By Francesca Politi - JUMP Team

Food is a vital expression of local culture and traditions, linked to a territory and its history with the methods of production, preservation, creation. Typical local and traditional products inherit particular characteristics from the place and culture where they originate that make them unique. This is the case of a Calabrian dessert rich in symbolism, the Easter cuzzupa.

Called by many different names depending on the province, the sguta, cullùra, angùta, vuta, or pizzatola, sweet of ancient origins, symbolizes the end of the Lenten fast and the resurrection of Christ. It seems that already in the Magna Graecia era it was prepared to celebrate the arrival of spring or the rebirth of the pagan goddesses linked to fertility. The name itself seems can be attributed to the Greek word “donut” (koutsoupon).

Traditionally, cuzzupe are prepared in every household during the Holy Week to be eaten on Easter Sunday. One per family member, they are decorated with hard-boiled eggs always in odd numbers, symbols of life and a wish for abundance and fertility. The classic shape is the doughnut but they can take on different shapes, which usually recall Easter symbols.

Moreover, tradition has it that the cuzzupa was also given by mothers-in-law used to their sons-in-law as a gift for the engagement. The cuzzupa could be decorated with seven eggs or nine: the decision between the two quantities can be explained with the sayingccù nova si rinnova, ccù sette s’assetta”, meaning that with nine eggs the promise of engagement needed to be renewed, and with seven the son-in-law could’ve “seat”, meaning he could’ve get married.