Italian Holiday Traditions

Italian “Halloween” Chestnut Necklace

In Italy Halloween is seen and “lived” in a very different and special way.

You can almost say that “Halloween” in Italy exists and it doesn’t, all at the same time.

It all depends how you personally look at Halloween as a holiday, and what your expectations are.

If you imagine Italian Halloween with costumed parties, night parades, carved pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns or children traveling from house-to-house trick-o-treating… it is not.

At least not the traditional way.

With strong catholic traditions Halloween in Italy is a religious holiday, that has its own name and significance.

The night of October 31st is vigil of All Hallows’  or All Saints’ Day.

November 1st is the Holidays.

It’s called Ognissanti or Tutti i Santi and it’a public holiday in Italy.

It’s usually passed in a family circle and certainly without a bang.

For example, Laura from My Corner Of Italy in her post Do we have Halloween In Italy writes about her family tradition to have lunch in family circle (of course with all favorite things from nonna) and then visiting cemetery to remember all relatives and friends resting there.

And it’s pretty much how this day goes in most Italian families.

However there’s one very special and characteristic thing that is kind of getting forgotten as time goes.

And that is..

Making chestnut necklaces

Throughout Italy nonnas and mammas are making chestnut necklaces for the kids.

Chestnuts are first cooked to done. Depending on the region you can see different methods how chestnuts are cooked, but for the most part they are boiled.

As a matter of fact, they’re even colled collana di “ballotti”boiled chestnuts necklace.

Once cooked, chestnuts are then poked with a large eye needle and a cotton (kitchen) twine. Halfway through add a large apple and finish forming a necklace with the remaining chestnuts.

How to Make Italian "Halloween" Chestnut Necklace - Step 1

Usually there are about 10-20 chestnuts per side, so about 20-40 chestnuts per necklace, depending on how large or small the necklace should be.

How to Make Italian "Halloween" Chestnut Necklace - Step 2

And it’s not just cute and fun thing for the kids. Such edible chestnut necklace made of chestnuts and a large apple in the center resembles a catholic rosary.

Very likely, it was a way, through the game, to teach little ones to pray for the deceased.

With chestnut necklaces, respect, memory, a reflection on the mystery of death.

Here’s a shot to bring you even more in the moment.

http://eccolatoscana.myblog.it/2011/10/30/carrara-le-collane-di-ballotti/

Ognissanti is part of the triduum of Allhallowtide, which lasts three days from 31 October to 2 November inclusive.

The last  day (November 2) in Italy is called “Il giorno dei Morti”. It’s the day when families go to the cemetery to remember and commemorate their dear faithful departed.

But with all that, you can still see well-known festive Halloween attributes before the holiday – in the supermarkets, grocery stores, even local bars and discos are organizing costumed parties.

But this is a recently inherited, much commercialized activity, that has nothing to do with the roots of the holiday.

And you would probably agree, that all around the world Halloween is not the rematch of Celtic traditions on Christian anymore, but trivially, a new consumer festival celebrated in the disco with the excuse of the dead.

So if you wish to add more meaning to celebration of this holiday why not make this Chestnut Necklace this year?

Let me know your thoughts…

Happy Halloween!

Italian Halloween Chestnut Necklace

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