All Souls’ Day is celebrated on November 2 in many parts of Italy and the world. In the Italian tradition, All Souls’ Day follows All Saints’ Day, which is celebrated on November 1. All Souls’ Day has ancient roots and often it is bound to pagan worship. It seems that this day is bound to the Great Flood mentioned in the Genesis. According to sources, it dates back to November month. There has been a proliferation of pagan rituals, where people ate a large amount of legumes and fava beans. During the Festival of Flowers, Greeks honored Hermes, the God who leads souls to the afterlife, cooking legumes and taking them on the graves. Their most favourite legumes were fava beans, because their shape reminded of the Greek letter “theta”, the first letter of the word “thanatos”, which means “death” in Greek. The seeds looked like the tears of the decedent and bean’s body was long enough to reach the decedent into the earth. Even the Celts, during the celebration of the Celtic New Year, celebrated All Souls’ Day eating chestnuts, roots and pumpkins. In 998 the abbot of Cluny, Odilo, added All Souls’s Day to the Christian calendar, deciding the date of November 2.
Today, according to the tradition, in the night between November 1 and 2, who has died come to visit his alive loved ones and brings sweets and gifts to children . It is also a way to teach kids not to be afraid of death. All Souls’ Day is the day where people go to cemeteries to celebrate loved ones who have departed, and also the occasion to go to fairs to buy all kinds of toys, objects and shoes.
In Sicily we celebrate this day cooking traditional sweets (I started in October to eat my favourite All Souls’ sweets) 😉
Here are 6 Traditional Sicilian Sweets to Celebrate All Souls’ Day, but you can eat them whenever you want, because I will give you some sweets’ recipe! Stay tuned!
1) Ossa dei morti: these cookies look like the bones of the decedent. Yes I know, it might be a bit scaring, but the taste will make you forget their name. The basic recipe includes flour and sugar and they are really simple to cook. Check out Ossa dei Morti recipe!
2) Rame di Napoli: these are my favorite sweets from Catania. They are soft chocolate cookies with dark chocolate, white or pistachio frosting. The traditional cookies have a dark chocolate frosting. Here is my yummy recipe!
3) ‘Nzuddi: typical almond cookies, it is impossible to resist!
4) Taralle or Tetù: these frosted almond sweets are from Palermo and their dialectic name means “One for you and one for me”.
5) Piparelle or Pipareddi: crunchy biscuits with almonds (I always add some zest of orange or lemon) you can also soak them in the liquor.
6) ‘Nciminati: shortbread cookies covered with sesame seeds.
There are also 2 other types of traditional sweets you can taste especially in this period: Pupi ri Zuccaru or Pupaccena and Frutta Martorana. I don’t want to add them in my list, because you can always find them. Pupi ri Zuccaru are popular in Palermo. They are hollow statues made of sugar painted with light colors which represent traditional figures, such as the famous Paladins. Frutta Martorana is the perfect reproduction of fruits and vegetables, but it is sweet! The interior is similar to marzipan and the basic ingredients are almonds and sugar.
If you could choose one of them, which one would you choose? 🙂