Hello Going Expat people,

with the article about Halloween and the Netherlands thrilling stories, I started a new series related to traditions.

From now on I will try to tell you about some holidays and how they are celebrated in particular in the Netherlands, my adopted country, in Italy, my native country, but not only.

2 November and commemoration of the dead

Although Christian Catholic countries seem to have a certain resentment towards Halloween because they see it as an event of celebration of darkness, the truth is that in many cultures they believe it to be a night when the world of the dead comes into contact with that of the living. In Italy is the 2nd of November.

This is the date where the deceased are commemorated, where families go to the cemetery to visit beloved ones who are gone and where children receive gifts from the afterlife.

Italy is big and the traditions between North and South can be slightly different. Here are some examples:

In Calabria and Sardinia since the early ‘900 children knocked on the doors of neighbors holding a lantern, made from a pumpkin (yep, that’s right!) or mad of tin, to beg for the souls of the dead.

In Abruzzo they use to light a candle and put it in front of the window, to commemorate the dead.

In Emilia Romagna the poor went from house to house to ask for food or money that were granted to not disturb the souls of the dead.

When we talk about tradition in Italy, we also talk about food.

So we have the Torrone dei morti (Nougat of the dead) in Campania, rectangular and made of chocolate on the outside, which resembles a bit the coffins. The Pane dei morti (Bread of the dead) in Lombardy and the Ossa di morto/Morticini (bones of dead/small dead) in Sicily usually we eat them together with the fruit martorana (marzipan sweets) – see photo –

It is a day when the world of the living and the dead come into contact, or rather a night!

I grew up with the idea that if I behaved well I would receive a gift from the deceased loved ones and that it would arrive in the night between November 1 (day dedicated to the Saints) and November 2 (day of the dead).

Can you imagine the excitement of going to bed?! And although it can sound scary, I can guarantee that it was a magical moment, no one saw anything macabre or strange.

The day of the dead in the world

Surely the most famous celebration is that of the Día de los Muertos in Mexico. Costumes, tricks and real banquets in cemeteries and streets to honor souls. Tombs are decorated with flowers and personal items to commemorate loved ones.

In Madagascar they celebrate the Famadihana, the 7th anniversary of the death of a loved one. Magic takes place and the deceased is carried (extracted from the tomb) in procession. Obviously the remains are contained and covered.

In East Asia the Hungry ghost festival is celebrated, also here banquets, food and decorations to conclude with the lotus flower lanterns to let go in the rivers or in the sea, to guide the anumas that have been lost.

Do you know any other tradition?

Let me know in the comments or on Instagram

Talk to you soon