Sunday, October 25, 2009

Halloween in Lucca...

Halloween is, without a doubt, my favorite holiday. It is the one day in the year when people can dress up to be anyone or anything they want without repercussions about it later. That said, I still have visions of my friend Steve dressed up in a very bright yellow wig, wearing garish makeup with tons of bright red lipstick and a dress. It wasn’t a pretty sight – sorry Steve…

I would love to go to a Halloween party here, but alas, there are few (if any) to be found. Many of you from the States and other countries are always curious (or automatically assume) that any holiday celebrated in the States is also celebrated everywhere else. Not!

Until very recently, Halloween wasn’t even really a word that was in the Italian’s vocabulary. As more Americans and other foreigners who celebrate Halloween come into the country, more Italians are finding out about it and having their own form of celebration.

In Italy, as in many other Latin countries, people celebrate Day of the Dead on November 1. On Hallow’s Eve (October 31), people take flowers to the cemetery and leave them on the graves and tombs of their loved ones. In ancient times, people believed it was the night when ghosts of the dead roamed the land of the living. In Italy people left bread and water for the ghosts and lit lamps so they could find their way. In America, jack-o-lanterns were invented and originally placed in people’s windows to scare the neighbors and the ghosts.

In the nineteenth century, immigrants took these traditions to America and over time, the holiday transformed into what is now celebrated as Halloween as you know it. Children dress in costume and go to people’s houses to get candy and trick or treat.

In Italy, the children are beginning to dress in costume for school, but they have not yet begun the tradition of going to people’s houses to trick or treat. They do get candy from some of the stores in town and say, “dolce o scherzo” (sweet or joke).

My young students, Sylvia and Valentina, are back taking English lessons again and I am having a great time teaching them all about the American Halloween customs. They are having loads of fun making faces on pumpkins, and learning how children celebrate in America. I am actively trying to find pumpkins to carve for next week’s lesson so they can have their very own jack-o-lanterns. In some of my previous lessons, I taught them about emotions and adjectives. Their compiti (homework) for this week is to draw faces on five paper pumpkins of some of the emotions that they learned; e.g., scary, silly, happy, sad.

On a different note, my beautiful grandson Jacob Allen Smith was born on October 15, weighing in at 7 lb. 2 oz. He is such a little doll. I hope you enjoy seeing his darling photos in the video this week.

Happy Halloween!


Martha said...

Halloween is one of my favorites too. I guess I never outgrew the fun of playing dress up and make believe. The Virginia suburb of Washington DC that we lived in before moving to Italy, closes off a major commuter route each year to stage a town wide Halloween parade. One of my all time favorite events. I do miss that. But you are right it is catching on in Italy. This year I have seen costumes in both the Esselunga and the COOP. These can always be brought out again at Carneval time, which has become my new Italian favorite holiday. It goes on for weeks!

Anonymous said...

Lovely to finally catch up on your blogs. I'm having an insomniac moment so it was just perfect... Thank you!

We did finally move to Lucca, haven't quite found jobs just yet (work in progress) but have found ourselves in London due to some family stuff till end of November. Really hope to meet you when we come back and try to settle!

Ciao for now
D (itlaianwifeitalianlife blogger) x