In Italy Halloween is celebrated to honor the dead and deceased. Otherwise known as All Saint’s Eve, it is becoming a popular day for costume parties and events in Italy. While the main holidays are still All Saints Day on November 1 (an Italian holiday) and All Souls Day on November 2, the custom of celebrating Halloween on October 31 becoming more and more popular.
The Halloween Celebration at the Devil’s Bridge in Borgo a Mozzano, near Lucca, has been going on each year since 1993 and calls itself Italy’s first Halloween celebration and also the biggest. There is a passage of terror, an interactive game called La Notte Nera or black night, and horror movies are shown all night.
As with many things in Italy traditions vary by region. Here are some of the different traditions for All Saints and All Souls Day.
In Lombardia, people put a bottle of fresh water in the kitchen so that the dead can quench their thirst. In Friuli Venezia-Giulia some people leave out a lamp, a bucket of water and a little bread, so that the dead can find their way home and, once there, eat and drink. In Veneto people offer traditional biscuits, known as the “ossi da morti” (the bones of the dead). These biscuits are popular in other regions of Italy too. In Trentino Alto Adige, Piemonte and Val d’Aosta bells ring to call the dead to their homes. The table is set for them and the fireplace is kept going for the whole night. In Liguria people cook broad beans and chestnuts and, in the past, it was traditional for grandparents to tell scary stories to their grandchildren. In Umbria cakes known as Stinchetti dei Morti (the shins of the dead) are popular in this region and they are served to ease the sadness of this day. In Abruzzo lamps are left lit and the table set, while children go to bed with a bag of broad beans and sweeties, to symbolize the link between past and present generations. In Sicily people tell their children that, if they pray and they are good, they will then receive gifts from the dead. In ancient times, the Romans even used to eat next to the grave of their relatives in order to keep them company!
The day of All Souls represents an important feast honouring loved ones who have passed. and the true essence of this feast includes visiting cemeteries and remembering the dearly departed.