In the past few years, the popularity of Halloween has grown immensely in Italy. It has now become even more popular than the well-known Italian holiday ĎCarnevaleí. However, there are differing opinions regarding the superiority of Carnevale over Halloween or vice versa. Coming back to Halloween, the festival is celebrated to honor the dead and deceased. It falls on 31st October and is celebrated throughout Italy. However, in the country, it is celebrated more as the All Soulís Day or All Saintís Day, rather than as a festival. The fun element is also attached to the festival, though in less proportion than the United States.
In Italy, every household arranges for a special cake called the Ossa dei Morti, which is baked in the shape of a bean. This cake forms an indispensable part of the Halloween celebrations in Italy. The people put the cake, which is popularly called the ĎBeans of the Deadí, on the top of their table. There is a religious procedure which follows the customary preparation of the cake. Each family member congregates at a feast, which is observed on All Soulís Day, while preparing the cake. During the feast, a profuse meal is placed on every table. This ritual stands for their belief that the living and the departed souls of the near and dear ones come together to participate in the Feast.
After setting the meal on the table, the family leaves for the Church, with the door open. The family members visit the Church, to pray for the departed souls of their relatives. The doors are kept open, following the popular belief that the departed souls visit houses to participate in the family feast. If the food is untouched on their return back home, it is believed that the spirit is unhappy with the family. This also stands as the omen that the displeased souls will harm their household. On the All Saintís Day, Catholic families in Italy also visit the Church, to offer prayer to the martyrs and saints.
Some families in Italy also visit the graves of their loved ones and involve themselves in cleaning the area. They also offer flowers, wreaths and small lanterns at the graves, as a mark of their respect and honor to the departed soul. At times, a mass is also conducted on the grave site and holy water is sprinkled on the grave. In Italy, Halloween is primarily celebrated as the festival of adults, rather than the children, as is popularly seen in case of United States. Here, the adults have a major role to play and kids take a backseat.
The main purpose of Halloween celebrations is to honor the dead and so there is not much of festivity. Trick or treating, which is the customary celebration for children on Halloween, is not followed in Italy. Instead of the children, it is the adults who put on masks during the celebration. However, recently more and more Halloween costume parties are being organized for children in Italy, as a part of the celebrations. Though Halloween is yet to get as much prominence in Italy as it enjoys in United States, there is no denial that the festival has started getting more and more audience.