The Italian Halloween

Twilight Positano, All Saints Day, ©johnny_clash55/Flickr

Twilight Positano, All Saints Day, ©johnny_clash55/Flickr

The popular celebration of Halloween has not spread completely across the European continent. Italians have started to celebrate it only a few years ago and slowly it is starting to become a part of their culture. Let us not forget about the fact that Halloween is the day when people honor the dead.

It’s not that Italians don’t honor them at all, or haven’t done it in the past but the American way has just started to become popular and wide spread in the past few years. So let’s see how Italians celebrate Halloween without trick or treating.

Carnevale and/or Halloween

While dressing up is quite common during Halloween Italians do it a bit earlier during the year. 40 days before Halloween there is a country holiday called ‘Carnevale’ when children dress up, play tricks on people and throw confetti around. This holiday lasts a whole week while the children eat tons of porcini mushrooms and pumpkin risotto. The preparations for this holiday are very similar to Halloween, so one could say that Italians have two Halloweens a year. Although Carnevale has an important historical and traditional background Halloween gains more ground each year and many Italians wish to make it a national holiday.

Carnevale in Naples, ©cosciansky/Flickr

Carnevale in Naples, ©cosciansky/Flickr

The first Halloween – All Saints Day

The first Halloween was called All Saints Day back then and it was the idea of Pope Boniface IV who wanted to replace a pagan holiday that respected the dead with a different one which had Catholic roots. The holiday was celebrated as such until the 80’s when the real Halloween arrived. Together with Halloween horror movies from America started to earn more popularity on the European continent.

Twilight Positano, All Saints Day, ©johnny_clash55/Flickr

Twilight Positano, All Saints Day, ©johnny_clash55/Flickr

At first only adults celebrated Halloween then the children were included and today we stand with parades and parties at schools. Still Halloween has not much meaning to Italians and they do not take it very seriously probably because of their strong Catholic beliefs but the holiday gradually becomes a more and more popular element in the Italian culture.

Halloween without trick or treating

As we all know in America children always expect the most exciting part of Halloween which is trick or treating. In Italy not many children are familiar with this custom. They don’t go and ask candy from the neighbors but instead they have other traditions connected to other holidays (such as Carnivale). But who knows, maybe soon enough American traditions will take over and Halloween will be the same everywhere.

Halloween lights in Venice. ©InSapphoWeTrust/Flickr

Halloween lights in Venice. ©InSapphoWeTrust/Flickr

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