All Saints Day, All Souls Day and Halloween
October 31, 2011 by Anna Merulla / Tags: all saints day , all souls day , celebrations , culture , death , festa dei morti , halloween , holiday , Italy , Liguria , November , ognissanti , traditions / 0 Comments
In Italy, we do however celebrate All Saint’s Day (“Ognissanti”) on November 1, which is a national holiday, honoring all the saints and martyrs that have died for the Catholic church. Then, on the following day (November 2nd), we celebrate All Soul’s Day (“Il Giorno dei Morti”) that is a day for remembering those that were close to us that have passed away.
All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day are celebrated with the family, we have lunch together. On 2nd November, for All Souls’ day we go to the cemetery and bring flowers to our beloved departed ones. Usually we bring chrysanthemums flowers, which symbolize death in the italian culture. All Souls’ Day is not just a sad day, but it’s a day where people meet eachother and remember the people who are not here anymore.
When I was a child we used to celebrate All Souls Day instead of Halloween. I lived in Southern Italy and I remember that my family celebrated this day setting the table with a beautiful meal. Children received presents on this day. In fact, the dead people of the family were seen as “friendly ghosts” who would come on the night to gift children with sweets (principally martorana, which are traditional marzipan sweets, in the form of fruits and vegetables) and toys.
My ligurian friends, instead, remember that when they where child their family celebrated All Souls Day preparing the “balletti”, which were chestnuts boiled in water with wild fennel. In the past, grandmothers used to make home-made necklaces to their grandsons with chestnut and a particular kind of apple, called “carle” apples which nowadays are almost impossible to find.