Halloween made in Calabria

Visit Calabria and discover the true origins of the tradition of Halloween! Many people think that it is a tradition imported from the US but the reality is quite different: according to the anthropologist Luigi Maria Lombardi Satriani, the celebration has Italian origins and precisely was born in the province of Vibo Valentia, a few kilometers from Tropea. In a chapter of his book “Il Ponte di San Gacomo” the researcher supports the hypothesis that the popular horror night is nothing more than the contamination of the ancient popular tradition of “Coccalu di muortu”, made in Calabria.

In Serra San Bruno, for centuries, for the anniversary of the dead, children empty the pumpkins, give them a scary look of a skull and go around the town asking for an offer chanting “Mi lu pagati lu coccalu?” (Will you pay me for the death’s skull? In the Serrese dialect).

In the town of Nicotera (Vibo Valentia) we find a similar tradition. Here, in fact, there is still memory of the begging that on November 1st was made by children around the houses of the town carrying a pumpkin emptied and worked in the shape of a skull, in which a candle was lit, asking for gifts in money and sweets through the question “ndi dati i benedetti morti?” (Will you give us the blessed dead?).

The presence of the pumpkin is also found in Limbadi (Vibo Valentia), where on the evening of All Saints’ Day groups of kids brought empty pumpkins carved in the shape of skulls to their homes asking for offerings for the dead and receiving money, dried fruit and sweets.

Even today the tradition of preparing sweets called “dead bones” with almonds persists throughout the province of Vibo Valentia, and if you visit Tropea in this time of the year, do not miss the chance to eat them in one of the ancient artisan pastry shops of our Old Town!