The Sicilian Halloween
Sicilians have always had a passionate love story with Death. Now thinking of all the dominations that coloured this beautiful island in red…bloody red. Now thinking of the Spanish inquisition court that delighted the nobles’ sunsets not long time ago. Now thinking of the invincible plague, only vincible for some superheroin Saint. Now thinking of the mafia family wars of the 80’s, the mercyless earthquakes and the summoning eruptions of mama Etna.
Let’s put it this way…if Death had a homeland, this would be Sicily.
It might be interesting for you to know that, before public cemeteries were established, few Palermitans were spending their morning of November the 2nd at the catacombs, eating, drinking and cheering with their mummy parents hanging beside. Yes, Mrs Death cheers up with Sicilians anytime she can. But once, we do have to admit it, we didn’t behave well with her. Don’t ask Mrs Death about Rosalia, the little mummified baby girl of Palermo. She froze before the warm beauty of Rosalia, getting depressed for few years. She got back in shape in 1939.
Let’s stick to 2018 now. Not everybody knows that Sicilians have their own Halloween feast, it’s called Festa dei Morti (tr. Day of the Deads), and it’s basically the day to celebrate our deads with a smile.
The night between November 1st and the 2nd is a sleepless night for Sicilian children, a sweet creepy night. When the house, overwhelmed with darkness, gets the void of silence, our dead relatives (well…their souls) sneak in, gently kiss the children on their forehead and hide for them gifts around the house.
When children stop pretending to sleep is already past sunrise and it’s time to search for their gifts.
Now, I do have a question for my grandparents. You kept hiding my gifts behind the curtains…how come you never realised I was finding them so easily! C’mon! I never met you and I still love you but I can somehow guess you weren’t the most unpredictable Sicilians 😉
Ops sorry! Almost forgot! Of course food is part of this story!
On November 1st Sicilian tables are decorated with the so-called cannistru, a basket full of nuts, chocolates and cookies topped with the pupaccena (sugar doll). Well yes, just like all traditions and religions, symbolism come from the cycle of mother-earth. Autumn officially starts, rains feed the soil before tough winter comes to lock us in the house. It’s now time to celebrate abundance before it’s too late. Here it comes the cannistru and its best wishes. Tomorrow, November 2nd it’s the day to eat another seasonal specialty, the one you see stubbed in the photo, the one and only Muffuletta. The muffuletta is a limited edition shape of bread, destined to be devoured with fresh oliver oil, anchovies, oregano and hard caciocavallo cheese! Soooooo yummy! Oh yes, it’s also the day to say thanks and return the visit. See you at the cemetery! 🙂
Stay Hungry, Stay Streaty, Stay Deadly!