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The “Feast of the Dead”, a Sicilian tradition

The feast for the little ones and not only

“We small children, before going to bed, put under the bed a basket of wicker (the size varied depending on the money that was in the family) that at night the dear dead would fill with sweets and gifts that we would find on the 2nd of November in the morning, when we woke up”. So the Sicilian writer, Adnrea Camilleri, told the story of the feast of the 2nd November, the “Feast of the Dead“, long awaited by children but also by adults for whom it as an opportunity to be together in the family.

a bicycle as a gift for the feast of the Dead
gift for the Feast of the Dead

The feast of the Dead and gifts for children

According to tradition, on the evening of the 1st November, children used to go to bed early after placing a basket under the bed: the next day, as soon as they woke up, they would find it full of gifts that their parents would let them believe that they had been left by their loved ones as thanks for the prayers they had received.
A moment of tenderness that united the whole family. Perhaps, just to emphasize the festive air and give the opportunity to buy gifts to children is set up every year the traditional “Fair of the Dead”: many stands of toys and also clothes, shoes and food, especially sweets.

The sweets of the Dead

Did we ever say that Sicilians are unbeatable when it comes to food? Well, yes! And even for the feast of the Dead there is no shortage of delicious sweets!
In the period before the 2nd of November in all bakeries and pastry shops of Catania you can find the “cookies of the dead”, we list the most popular so you can buy and taste them if you have not yet done so!
Rame di Napoli: despite the name are typical of the city of Catania. These are soft cookies covered with chocolate frosting (black or white) and are often filled with nutella or creams of various kinds (for example pistachio).
Ossa dei morti (bones of the dead): very crunchy biscuits composed of a caramelized base with a white shell on top that represents the bones.
Piparelle: originating in the province of Messina are aromatic biscuits made with almonds, honey and spices.
Nzuddi: created by the Vincentian nuns of Catania, they are biscuits with a slightly rubbery consistency.

Sicily, as you can see, is rich in traditions and with them there is no shortage of sweets and typical dishes. Do not miss the opportunity to get to know these traditions up close: if you are already on the island but do not know how to move among the beauties of Sicily contact our partner Sicily Day By Day and book your cultural tour! And don’t forget to book a tour on Etna, to discover the true soul of Sicily!