All Souls Day Traditions

All Souls Day is one of the biggest Italian holidays, here's how to celebrate.

In Italy, Halloween is a pretty popular holiday, however, the two days following the holiday are significantly more popular. November 1 is known amongst Catholics as All Saints Day, it is a time to attend mass and celebrate the contributions of the religion’s many saints. The following day, November 2, is known as All Souls Day. Similar to the Hispanic culture’s Day of the Dead, this day is all about celebrating the memory of those who have passed away and their passage from purgatory into heaven. Many Italians will visit the gravesites of their relatives or have special meals to celebrate. If you are looking to honor the memory of your loved ones, here are some All Souls Day traditions you can put into practice. 

If you are visiting a loved one’s burial site, bring chrysanthemums. These flowers are symbols of death and are used in funeral arrangements and graveside visits. 

In the Lombardy region, it is tradition to leave a bottle of freshwater in the kitchen so the dead can alleviate their thirst.

In the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, a lamp is left out to help light the way for the souls of the dead. Water and bread are also left out so they nourish themselves along the way. 

Around Venice, biscuits known ossi da morti, or the bones of the dead, are commonly shared amongst family members.

In the mountainous region of Trentino Alto Adige bells are rung to call the dead home.

The residents of Piedmont and Val d’Aosta often leave the table set so the dead can feast before they travel on to heaven. 

Those living in Umbria bake cakes known as Stinchetti dei Morti, The shins of the dead, to commemorate the day and remember their loved ones.

In Abruzzo, it is a tradition for children to sleep with broad beans and candies under their pillows to symbolize the link between the past and present.

In Sicily, kids are instructed to pray and be good if they wish to receive gifts from the dead.


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