While the rest of the world is celebrating Halloween, Italy is commemorating their lost ones. November 1 is Ogni Santi, All Saint’s Day. November 2 is Commemerazione dei Defunti, or All Soul’s Day.
As in many other Catholic communities, visiting your loved ones at the cemetery is expected. Most Italians live and die in the same town they were born in, so when you go to visit, you find generations of your family.
Older cemeteries are filled with beautiful monuments like the above foto which I took in Puglia. There are large tombs but also private mausoleums which the wealthier families have. Normal people have small plots in the ground, where they are left for 10 years, then their bodies are removed, cremated and put into smaller wall tomb, usually with their fotos and dates on the tombstone.
When Andrea’s mom was moved from the plot in the ground to her smaller wall tomb, with her husband, we removed the marker he had and placed a lovely foto of them together walking in Florence and created a double marker for them both.
Florists have shops located right at the cemetery to leave fresh flowers.
Personally, I like the Mexican tradition of creating altars in the home to celebrate and remember lost loved ones and then parties at the cemetery.
Having lost most of my family when I was young, I prefer to celebrate instead of mourn, but that is almost impossible. I wrote a little something about funerals on my blog.
In America, I don’t go to the cemetery to visit family. Do you? Here in Italy, I go with my husband to visit his mom, dad and relatives and hear stories about his memories.
In Sicily, I found a lovely tradition, where your dead relatives come to visit leaving sugar statues under your bed. Much like the Mexican sugar skulls, but in fun figures.
There are a lot of sweets also such as Ossi di morti, bones of the dead in various regions of Italy, usually a variation of ground nuts and egg whites with flour, often shaped like bones and crunchy.