Halloween has always been known as a feast of Celtic origin. It goes back to the celebrations for the end of summer with the festival of Samhain, whose origins date back to ancient Ireland.
In reality, today, the word Halloween is the contraction of the expression "All Hallows’ eve," which is the eve of all saints. This ancient Christian holiday began to be celebrated in the fourth century. In 835, Pope Gregory IV moved the date of this anniversary from May 13th to November 1st, which coincided precisely with the Celtic festival of Samhain. It was an important date, a point of passage linked more than anything else to agriculture. Precisely for this reason, the ancient Celts thanked for the harvest while waiting for the next sowing.
On the night of Samhain, the dead relatives were honored, and the stories of grandparents and great-grandparents were retold during a beautiful family meeting. It was also believed that the souls of the deceased relatives visited their homes. For this reason, they used to leave food, and lights were put on the windows to help the spirits find their way home.
In Sardinia, a celebration very similar to Halloween has been taking place, many centuries before the Celtic tradition. This feast is known by various names within Sardinia, depending on the area: Is Animeddas or Is Panixeddas in the south of the island, Su mortu mortu in the area of Nuoro, Su Prugadoriu in Ogliastra. It is an ancient tradition that has many similarities with the ancient Shaman rituals. The children are the again the protagonists, going around the houses to ask for a small offer.
Today children receive sweets, snacks, chocolate, but in the past, the offerings consisted of autumn sweets, seasonal fruit, and dried fruit- all gifts for the souls in purgatory. Adults remember their dead with a quick dinner, and then they leave the table set for the dead throughout the night. They tend to cook the type of food that the deceased relatives loved the most. In some countries, even the cupboards remain open, so that souls can feed themselves.
Even the pumpkin is not a Halloween prerogative: in Sardinia, they were carved to represent ghostly beings, to entertain and frighten children. In the houses instead, oil lamps were lit, one for each deceased member of the family.
In Nulvi, children go from house to house singing the S. Andrea nursery rhyme, and instead of pumpkins, they use tin cans carved with candles inside. In Seui, every year in the week of Halloween, the event "Su Prugadoriu" takes place. It combines a cultural part, a traditional part, and a gastronomic part of the tradition: it includes conferences, theatre performances, historical re-enactments, guided tours. In Ghilarza, the ritual of the feast of the dead is called Adkardoppias and consists of the quest for the dead by children, to whom traditional nuts and biscuits are given.
In Cagliari every year, on October 31st, various events are organized, dedicated to ghosts, legends, and rituals for the feast of the dead. In particular, there are tours to discover places surrounded by ghosts and mysteries. Those tours usually start from Porta Cristina, in an itinerary that ends in Piazza del Carmine. Another route is the "Fantasmi a Castello," which begins at Piazza Arsenale, with a path that ends at the Church of Santa Croce.
If you are wondering where to spend Halloween, the advice is to take the opportunity to visit Sardinia, at a time when nature is beautiful, and there are not too many crowds of tourists. There are many places linked to Halloween in Sardinia, and they are all dedicated to the cult of the dead, and ancient traditions. Such places are the Domus de Janas, the Sella del Diavolo, the Tombs of the Giants, Casteldoria, or the many abandoned castles scattered throughout the Sardinia. All perfectly in line with the mood of All Saints Day.
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