Saturday, October 24, 2009

Halloween In Italy....


Most people who know me are very aware that I have had a passion for Italy that is part of my life, so when this blog came about, I thought it might be rather interesting to discuss Halloween in this wonderful country! Just about everyone is aware of the spectacle and beauty of Venice's Carnevale, and it's often compared with Halloween - even in Italia! So...

Halloween In Italy:

Shocking to some, inevitable to others - Halloween is surpassing the well-known Italian holiday of Carnevale! Carnevale arrives 40 days before Easter and kids dress up, go out and throw confetti, and play innocent practical jokes on everyone. It lasts about one week. And, children in Italy stuff themselves with pumpkin risotto and porcini mushrooms - instead of sugar filled candies like in the United States.

In Italy, Halloween has been making amazing progress influencing the culture of the young, particularly over the past half dozen years. According to research, Italian searches for 'Halloween' are more concentrated, and much higher than those of Carnevale. Carnevale is still superior, but with the younger generations, they are looking to embrace the mischief and magic of Halloween. This is throwing some controversy into the laps of religious authorities in Southern Italy. Halloween is starting to develop a superior influence over Italy's Day for the Dead on November 2nd. A large majority of Italians would like to see Halloween become a national holiday in Italy, but many disagree with its meaning and roots. In 2006, Italians spent 250 million Euro's on Halloween parties and accessories, 20% more than in 2005. It may be a holiday that was pretty much invented in America, but it has far deeper roots.

America discovered Halloween through European immigrants and created a magical fairytale reality out of it. But Halloween was originally born in Europe. In the 19th century, immigrants from Ireland and Scotland brought their customs with them from their homelands, and kept them alive after years pasted in America.

In Honor of the Dead

It was common in Europe to have a day of celebration to honor the dead. The Romans celebrated the Feralia in their honors to the dead. This took place also in February at the end of the Roman year. All Saints Day was invented by Pope Boniface IV to replace the pagan holiday with one of Catholic roots, all in respects for the deceased. This seems to be the 'Italian' Halloween.

Years back, downtown Rome in October showed sparse signs of Halloween, with only a few shops offering Halloween candles and decorations. As time passed, stores have started catering to the Halloween Holiday - featuring rows of costumes, make-up and tons of decorations. For Italians it's really not the meaning behind Halloween that holds significance, mostly it's just an excuse to have another Festa. (If there isn't a day in Italy without some kind of festival, holiday or reserved day for something original the Italians wouldn't be Italian.)

However, Halloween arrived more or less in the 80's. This was when American horror movies made their theatrical invasion, and left gruesome impressions on European minds. Friday the 13th, Freddy scissor-hands, and Halloween initiated the emergence of this strange and ancient candy-land of a holiday. Before long, the Italians started to catch on and embrace the holiday. More parties are held for adults today on October 31st, in hotels and privately. For the kids, schools are starting to have their own little parties, despite bribes trying to stop them.

Italians today still recite the fact that Halloween does not have any strong meaning for them, in all likelihood for reasons related to their Catholic beliefs. Slowly though, as masked parties are being held in Italy, and great fun is being had, the holiday continues to grow and become a bigger part of the Italian culture.

Not many Italian children in Italy are familiar with the Trick or Treat tradition. They still do not go door to door with pillowcases stuffed with candies, chocolates and various treats ranging in different shapes and colors. Halloween has taken to Italy in a positive fashion by many, but there is still much uncertainty that remains. Slowly, in the coming years - Halloween probably will be accepted and embraced by Italians.


Sources: Life In Italy, Italy Magazine, Modern Italian, and many wonderful friends from all over the magical country called Italia.....


Halloween Traditions are on the Internet at:

http://wilstar.com/holidays/hallown.htm
http://www.fabulousfoods.com/holidays/halloween/halloweenhistory.html
http://www.historychannel.com/cgi-bin/frameit.cgi?p=http%3A//www.historychannel.com/exhibits/halloween/hallowmas.html
http://www.benjerry.com/halloween/history.tmpl
http://www.halloween-online.com/

The "Bones of the Dead" site is at:
http://italianfood.about.com/library/weekly/aa100999.htm

For some scary stories, appropriate for the season, try:
http://www.themoonlitroad.com/index.html

12 comments:

  1. That is great info! I really had no idea that Italians go so into Halloween. Thanks for that and please could you do this w/all holidays it is really interesting.
    Thanks again,
    johanna

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  2. Wonderful post, and very intriguing.

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  3. I would be delighted to post my Italian stuff... I don't need much encouragement, believe me! This country endlessly fascinates and enchants me!

    Grazie, ladies.
    Hugs and Blessings to all.
    Denysé

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  4. Denyse knows all there is to know about Italy...LOL... just ask her.

    This was a great post darling, as always, your knowledge and love for Italy astounds me.

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  5. Love the post. I'm half Irish and love all things Celtic--just can't get enough.

    I'm also half Italian, too. :) I find it fascinating to read about Italian traditions as well. Your love for all things Italian shines in your post. I would love to read more.

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  6. I love learning about European cultures and traditions. Italy is most definitely on my list of places I want to visit. I had no idea Halloween was becoming such a big hit there. Great post!

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  7. Fascinating post! I loved hearing about other countries traditions. Thanks for the information..

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  8. wow, this is really interesting! Halloween is my favorite holiday and it's really cool to see how other people celebrate it!

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  9. Very interesting! I love reading about traditions in other countries!

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  10. Hi Denyse,
    I always love hearing about other cultures. Thanks for sharing your knowledge of Italian culture and their love of Halloween.

    kelleyheckart.com

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  11. Very, very interesting! Thanks for sharing!

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  12. Thanks to everyone! Italia is my soul... I can't get enough of it, and everyday there is something new to enchant me about the country and its people. I'm so glad you all enjoyed reading a little bit more about my favourite place in the world! Maybe I can do it again at Christmas? That's a big one everyone, isn't it??

    Love and Hugs to everyone...
    Always ~~ Denyse

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