Halloween in Italy

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Two of the most important dates indicated in the Italian calendar are All Saints Day (also known as Tutti i Santi) which is celebrated on November 1 and the Day of the Dead (Il Giorno dei Morti), which takes place on November 2nd. It is about two festivals of a religious and family nature where its members meet to remember those who are no longer there. and to venerate those consecrated by God.

Both festivals are celebrated in countries with a Christian tradition but in different ways. In Anglo-Saxon countries Halloween is celebrated while in countries of Catholic heritage it is celebrated on All Saints 'Day and All Souls' Day. In the next post we will delve into this question and how Halloween is celebrated in Italy.

How is All Saints Day celebrated in Italy?

The day of Tutti i Santi is a different holiday than the day of Il Giorno dei Morti. November 1 is commemorated in a special way to all those blessed or saints who lived their faith in a special way or died for it and who, having passed purgatory, have been sanctified and are already living in the kingdom of heaven in the presence of God.

It is common in Italy and other countries with a Catholic tradition to celebrate this day by exhibiting relics of the saints in large churches and cathedrals.

How is All Souls' Day celebrated in Italy?

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It is a national holiday. At dawn that day a requiem for the deceased is celebrated in the churches and for the rest of the day, Italians attend cemeteries to bring flowers with which they honor their deceased relatives, especially chrysanthemums, and they watch over the graves of their loved ones. This day takes place on November 2 and its purpose is to pray for those who have died to remember their memory and ask God to welcome them to his side.

Furthermore, Italians often cook a traditional bean-shaped cake known as "ossa dei morti" although it is also often called "the cake of the dead." He is always present at family gatherings during these days because it is believed that the deceased return that day to participate in the banquet.

The more traditional families prepare the table and go to church to pray for those who are gone. The doors are left open so that the souls can enter the house and no one touches the food until the family returns from church.

And in some Italian regions?

  • Sicily: During the night of All Saints in this region it is believed that the deceased of the family want to leave gifts for the little ones along with the fruits of the Martorana and other sweets.
  • Massa Carrara: In this province, food is distributed to the needy and a glass of wine is offered to them. Children often make a necklace made of boiled chestnuts and apples.
  • Monte Argentario: In this area the tradition was to put shoes on the graves of the deceased because it was thought that on the night of November 2 their soul would return to the world of the living.
  • In the communities of southern Italy tribute is paid to the deceased according to the Eastern tradition of the Greek-Byzantine rite and the celebrations take place in the weeks before the beginning of Lent.

What is Halloween?

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As I said in previous lines, Halloween is celebrated in countries of Anglo-Saxon tradition. This celebration has its roots in an ancient Celtic festival called Samhain, which took place at the end of summer when the harvest season ended and the new year began coinciding with the autumn solstice.

At the time It was believed that the spirits of the dead walked among the living on Halloween night, October 31st. For this reason it was customary to perform certain rituals to communicate with the deceased and light a candle so that they could find their way to the other world.

Today, the Halloween party is very different from the original. Surely you've seen it countless times in the movies! Now the supernatural meaning of Halloween has been put aside for give way to a celebration of a playful nature, where the main objective is to have fun in the company of friends.

How is Halloween celebrated today?

Most people dress up for house parties or going out with friends to nightclubs to have fun at themed events. In this sense, bars, cafes, discos and other types of shops strive to decorate all establishments with the typical theme of the party.

The decorative emblem of this tradition is Jack-O'-Lantern, a pumpkin carved on its outer face with gloomy faces and whose interior is emptied to place a candle inside and illuminate it. The result is spooky! However, other ornamental motifs are also used such as cobwebs, skeletons, bats, witches, etc.

Do you know the trick or treating of Halloween?

Children also really enjoy Halloween. Like adults, They dress up to tour the houses in their neighborhood as a group asking their neighbors to give them some sweets through the famous "trick or treat." But what does it consist of?

Very easy! When knocking on your neighbor's door on Halloween, the children propose to accept a trick or make a deal. If he chooses treatment, the children receive candy but if the neighbor chooses treatment, then the children make a little joke or prank for not giving them sweets.

And how is Halloween celebrated in Italy?

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Despite being a festival of Anglo-Saxon origin, it has spread a lot throughout Italy and is celebrated especially by adults, not so much by children, so it is very exceptional to see them doing the "trick or treating" around the house.

Most Italians dress up to go to parties in clubs or at houses in order to enjoy a good time in the company of friends, having a few drinks and dancing until dawn.

In Italy shops are also decorated with typical Halloween decorative motifs such as pumpkins, monsters, cobwebs, bats, witches or ghosts, among others.


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