In Sicily and in particular in Palermo there are two important festivities that come on the beginning of November. On the very 1st of the month we celebrate All Saints' day, which is a religious day dedicated to the Saints, so it's important if we want to ask them help or pray for intercession. The 2nd of November is All Souls' day and is dedicated to the loved ones that we lost and it's a completely different thing.
When we were kids, the 2nd of November was an important awaited day, because parents used to tell children that during the night a deceased relative of the family came on that special day of the year to visit them and bring gifts plus many delicious sweets for the little ones. It was called "u cannistru ri morti", which means the basket brought by the deads! The children had to be very careful, if the deads arrived while they were still awake, they would tickle their feet. Another sweet gift that they used to bring were the famous precious "pupi di zuccaro", beautiful dolls made only of sugar (pic on the right).
But the most renowned sweets that we make for this occasion is the famous "Frutta di Martorana", which means marzipan made with almond flour and shaped in any kind of fruits and vegetables (pic above). The name comes from the Nuns of the Monastery of Martorana, nearby the same Church, who were the ones that used to prepare these fruits on the 1st of November. These fruits are also called "Pasta reale", which means royal pastry, because was often appreciated by many kings during the centuries and is exactly the same that we use on Easter day for representing the Lamb.
Nowadays, it has become more and more difficult to keep this tradition alive, due to the Hallowen influence on our culture. We want to keep this recurrence alive in our own way, thinking that all Souls' Day is not only a commemoration of the deads, but also a real celebration of their lives. They are not with us anymore in body, but we believe they keep staying close and although is sad, we want our children to remember them with a smile, not with fear. Nothing to be afraid of, because without death there wouldn’t be any life and viceversa.