HALLOWEEN: the celebration among pumpkins and roman tradition
Enlightened pumpkins, evil spirits wandering in the night, trick or treat, all traditions that we immediately link to the magical Halloween night.
But if you dig deep enough you’ll find out that these are very ancient traditions coming far far away from us…
THE ORIGIN OF THE FESTIVITY
It is very well known that Halloween comes from the contraction of the words “all Hallows’ Eve”, which is the Cristian festivity that falls every November 1st in order to celebrate the previous ancient tradition.
It is also certain that it came to America together with the ships of the Irish pilgrims at the end of ‘800.
The Irish traditions celebrates on the night of Ocotber 31st the celtic new year (Samhain oSauin). A pagan festivity of Gaelic origins that on the “day that doesn’t exist” midway between two years, celebrated the fall between the worlds of life and death. On that day the spirits were free to wander in the streets and the only way not to be hurt by them was to dress up as monsters.
So that’s that, the most famous and commercial festivity of the United States, after Christmas, is just a pagan and pre-Christian ritual, that was born in Europe.
ALL THE PARTIES LEAD TO ROME
As usual with ancient festivities, the origins are lost throughout time and when it comes to history and traditions you can never exclude the roman culture and its prominence.
During the pre-Christian age, it seems that Romans already celebrated the harvest period that ended and the end of October, and dedicated it to Pomona, the goddess of fruits and seeds.
Just like Celts, the roman festivity calendar included an entire week dedicated to the cult of the ancestors (Parentalia), together with three days known ad Mundus patet (the world is open) during which they believed that the souls of the deads could wander around among the living. During those days the villages were enlighten all night long by fires and bonfires to drive away the evil spirits.
Last but not least, in the 50 B.C Caesar started the long dominion upon Gaul and the northern territories, that leaded to the Latinization of the Celtic tribes.
PUMPKINS, SWEETS AND MASKS
Halloween as we know it today is the memory of a past of Roman, Celtics and Christian traditions, that were blend together with commercial interests. This can be confirmed by some rituals that can be linked to the tradition and that today are still in use during the night of the witches.
The carved pumpkin lanterns that light up the night resemble the ancient nocturnal fires that were light up to protect the villages; the children that wander from house to house asking “trick or treat?” are the heritage of the ancient ritual to leave sweets and gifts to the wandering deads.
Dressing up as monsters was the only way to blend with the spirits.
Choosing the Jack’o Lantern as symbol of this festivity, the carved pumpkin (in the ancient Ireland was actually a turnip) that contains a lantern, symbolize many of these traditions.
THE HALLOWEEN MENU
“Trick or treat” comes from an ancient tradition that is still alive here in Italy.
Puglia, Abruzzo, Emilia and many regions of Italy celebrates specific days by eating sweets known as “the dead bones”.
On the Halloween menu one element can certainly not be omitted: the pumpkin.
Rione 13, restaurant in Trastevere in the heart of Rome, offers for the week of Halloween many desserts and the pumpkin based dishes, perfectly blending them with the ingredients of the roman tradition.
So you’ll be able to taste tonnarelli with pumpkin sauce, bacon and pecorino petals, a dish where mixed flavors bring to life a very special meal.