Feast of the Dead in Sicily: history, traditions and typical sweets
One of the most heartfelt Sicilian traditions is to remember and celebrate the dead on the 2th of November.
Once, according to tradition, on the occasion of the feast of the Dead in Sicily, the parents gave to the
sweet babies and toys, telling them that they were brought as gifts by the souls of deceased relatives.
On the night between 1 and 2 November, the day of the commemoration of the dead, "u cannistru" was placed, that is
a basket, under the bed. The greater the family's financial resources, the larger the basket. THE
Children before going to sleep had to recite the following prayer Armi santi, armi santi, io sugnu unu e vuatri siti tanti:
mentri sugnu ‘ntra stu munnu di guai cosi di morti mittitiminni assai, or "Holy Souls, holy souls, I am one and you others are many: while I dream in this world of troubles, things of the dead
give me so many", and at midnight, the children were told that the souls of deceased relatives would
filled the basket with gifts and sweets.
In some houses, it was customary to hide the grater because yes he said that the dead would go and scratch the feet of those who behaved badly.
Always according to tradition, the basket, after being filled, was not placed under the bed but was hidden in another place of the house, to increase expectation and desire in children. Once the rich booty is found, the whole family he went to the cemetery to thank their loved ones by lighting a candle in their honor.
During the night, the basket was adorned with gold and silver filaments and filled with toys purchased in the country fairs and with typical sweets of the feast of the dead, such as Bones of the dead, Sicilian Nutacoli, Sicilian Totò, Tutù and Teio, Sicilian Taralli, Honey Rami, Nzuddi, Regina and Bersaglieri biscuits, Sicilian Sugar Puppets or Pupaccena, and typical sweets of the Sicilian tradition such as Mustazzoli siciliani, Martorana Fruits and Reginelle biscuits. The toys, on the other hand, consisted in guns, swords, rifles, drums for boys while for girls dolls, strollers and pots.
The origin of the custom of leaving gifts to children from deceased relatives it must be sought in the ancient pagan cults and in the funeral banquet of which there is still a memory in Sicily. Indeed in Sicily after the death of a loved one and after the burial it is customary for the neighbors to offer lunch to relatives who watched all night, the so-called "consulu".
Today, on the occasion of the feast of the commemoration of the dead, ancient traditions they still live in many houses in Sicily. Even today the typical sweets of the feast of the dead are tasted and they come make gifts for the children. Even if the toys are no longer the same, the expectation and joy of children is always the same.
Some events in Sicily aim to keep this splendid tradition alive Sicilian. The day of the dead in Palermo and Catania they return to savor the customs in the long-awaited night of November 2 through the event La Notte di Zucchero a Palermo and La Notte di Zucchero a Catania.
In Catania, during the festivities dedicated to the commemoration of the dead, it takes place The Fair of the Dead, one of the most important and most anticipated events of the year, naturally after the feast of Sant'Agata.