All saints day falls on November 1st and is awaited with anticipation by the Italians, regardless of which region they live in. This is a very ancient holiday that originates in the past and is celebrated in a different way depending on the specific place: every city has its own tradition and its way of celebrating it (and some traditions, let us say it, are really unusual!).
But one thing is certain and that is, that all Italians, turn it into a real opportunity every year to visit their deceased loved ones and crowd the cemeteries of the entire nation. In fact, the day of the dead falls on November 2, but many prefer to visit the cemetary ahead of time so as to enjoy a more relaxed atmosphere and do things calmly. Some, instead, prefer to take advantage of the two-day holiday to organize short outings.
All saints day in Italy
All saints day falls on the first day of November and represents one of the most anticipated holidays by the Italians. This is a fully Catholic-like celebration that can be considered, for a question of dates as Halloween is ours.
The day after this holiday is the celebration of the dead. On November 2, their loved ones dress up as angels and demons, and light great bonfires to remember their souls, and All saints day represents the eve of this day, recalling the British legend of Jack o’ Lantern.
Typical celebrations of All saints day
Typical of All saints day, are celebrations of a strictly Catholic type. Candlelit wakes, waiting for the next day (November 2, when the souls of the dead are remembered) are on the agenda and are organized by churches and parishes all over the country. Some parishes organize them inside, others prefer to arrange outside vigils to make the whole thing even more evocative and encourage the faithful to a more active participation.
There are also many other Italian traditions linked to this holiday. It is a tradition to visit the cemeteries, even before the day of November 2, which usually sees overcrowding all the same. But it is customary to go on holiday and year after year, roads and motorways all over the whole country are jammed! This is a national holiday, regularly recognized as a non-working day and during which you can take advantage of the time off to unwind and enjoy a bit of relaxation.
All saints day Traditional dishes
All saints day is a real event for every Italian who respects it. It is no coincidence that this is one of the most anticipated Italian holidays. Among the traditions that link the country to this Catholic holiday are certainly the culinary ones. Italians are famous for their love of food and their art in the kitchen which is envied all over the world … And a series of dishes or desserts typical of All saints day have been handed down through the generations, which are eaten in this period, for good luck.
Here are some:
- The nougat of the dead, typical of Campania
- The broad beans of the dead, typical of Sicily
- The pan dei morti bones of the dead, typically Tuscan
The cities that celebrate All saints in a strange way: here are some peculiar customs
We have talked about All saints day in general, listing those that are the most common traditions and the most famous typical dishes. But the towns and communities that celebrate this holiday in an unusual way are many! In Valle d’Aosta you usually have a wake round a fire and leave food on the table for the dead as a sign of respect. In Calabria and in particular in the areas of Serra San Bruno, kids carve pumpkins just like in America and knock at the doors of homes and shops “scaring” the neighborhood.
But there is more: in Piemonte it is customary, during dinner between 1st and 2nd of November, to set the table by adding more seats for the deceased, who, of course, in an iconic way, come back to visit their loved ones. Similar to the situation in Lombardy, where the feast for all saints is left on the table during the night with water-filled jugs to quench the thirst of the deceased who return to visit their old houses during the night.