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:
The "Bones of the Dead" site is at:
For some scary stories, appropriate for the season, try: