Halloween can’t be considered a traditional Sicilian festivity even though nowadays is celebrated by some. When Lee asked what Halloween used to be like when I was a little girl, I had to explain that things are a bit different in Sicily during that time of the year.
In fact, Lee was a bit shocked when I told him that instead of Halloween, we celebrate the first of November as
‘All Saints day’ (Tutti i Santi). This is a National festivity: children don’t go to school, offices and banks are closed.
Just in Sicily, though, following Tutti i Santi day, we celebrate the dead people. The second of November is called
‘Il giorno dei morti’ (the day of dead people).
TUTTI I SANTI
IL GIORNO DEI MORTI
The day of the dead people
The night between the first and second of November, according to what has been told to children for generations, relatives and friends who have died come to Earth to pay a visit and to bring sweets and toys. These spirits were said to be quite mischievous, hiding the presents and the sweets baskets for the children to find the following morning. And if children had misbehaved during the year, their feet would have been tickled by the spirits!
In the past, il giorno dei morti and Christmas were the only occasions in which children used to receive presents. Some parents had to take away the toys after a few days and save them for the following year. What was supposed to be enjoyed on the same day with no objections was the basket packed with sweets. The central piece of the composition was a doll entirely made with sugar: la pupa di zucchero.
PUPA RI ZUCCARO
Doll of sugar (as in, made of sugar) Sicilian
This is an example of basket made for our son, Logan Tancredi. My mum and I picked a Donald Duck pupa di zucchero. The rest of the basket is traditionally filled with dried fruit, marzipan, chocolate, etc…
Today, as in the past, il giorno dei morti is an occasion to visit relatives at the grave yard, but it is a time to go out shopping for toys and traditional sweets as well. It’s a tradition to go and visit the market that is specifically held in this time of the year. Lee visited it once and was impressed with the amount of stalls. Lots of people from Malta come to visit the market, too. It is definitely worth a visit!
If you feel like learning a good sentence along the line of il giorno dei morti, listen to this song by Zucchero: E’ un peccato morir (It’s a shame to die). Follow the link and sing along.
Now, leave a comment saying what a shame is for you. For example, for me…..
….E’ un peccato non mangiare la pupa di zucchero. What did I say??