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  • Writer's pictureGianluca Nicastro

'All Saints' & 'All Souls' (Day of the Dead) Day Sicily Nov 1st & 2nd 2019

All Saints' (Ognissanti) Day is marked on 1st November & All Souls' (Day of the Dead 'festa dei morti') Day on 2nd November.

...Imagine a place where once a year the people of that land leave work behind and spend the day to remember all the saints that they are named after, that protect them and that are celebrated throughout the year...

Imagine then on this night, the traditions of this place give way to both feelings of excitement for children and a bitter sweet feeling for adults who prepare to remember their loved ones. During the night wicker baskets placed under beds - children wait in anticipation for their deceased ancestors to pass by and fill the baskets with sweets and gifts. The night between November 1st and 2nd marking the connection between the dead and the living left behind...

This place is Sicily.

This tradition is a beautiful one that is full of meaning, brings humility and peace to many who can commemorate lost loved ones, not to mention a way of educating children about gratitude for their culture and ancestors, and not to be afraid of death.

(We won't talk here about the loss of this tradition and the sad Americanisation of the land slowly creeping in like a bad Halloween movie... )

This both civil and religious day of Nov 1st is one of the most famous and celebrated of Italian days. Canonised or not, all of the saints are remembered. The day of the 2nd is where people head to family cemeteries to visit their dear departed ones.


Nourishment for the soul.

Family, not funds.



Traditional Sicilian Sweets to Celebrate All Souls’ Day

'Totó' - a non-sickly sweet cake in both dark and white chocolate.

'Ossi di Morti' (bones of the dead) - marzipan moulded into these shapes, also fruit shapes.

In Sicily, marzipan fruits are called frutta di Martorana, due to the location of the first modelling and painting - in the Martorana convent in Palermo.


To understand a greater meaning about these days, click here for 'Racconti' by Andrea Camilleri

"I dolci dei morti" di Andrea Camilleri riempiono ancora le tavole degli agrigentini" More...


1 Comment

Nov 01, 2019

That’s a great article. Interesting as France have a similar tradition by placing flowers at the graves of loved ones on the 1st of Nov. Funny how, like you said the commercialisation of this tradition has created a huge money racket here in the UK and the US I think our traditions started here with the Pagans giving thanks for the harvest & leaving some food out for the spirits as an offering. Interesting subject.

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