Halloween in Italy: tradition or American import?

Monsters and scary figures are not unrelated to Italian traditions

Like every year in the period before Halloween, some protests arise against this celebration. The critics come mainly from far right groups and parts of the Catholic Church, two friends that get along well in opposing many things. Their thesis is that Halloween is the exaltation of Satan and of evil, and therefore a corruption of innocent souls. The exorcist Gabriele Amorth, for instance, stated that “Halloween is the nye of occultism and their executors. Satan the God of occultism is celebrated”. Moreover the fact that Halloween is celebrated before All Saints’ Day, and that the holiday is mostly a consumerist and commercial product imported by the United States. These critics actually are really isolated and don’t have a large impact on the public perception.

Nowadays Halloween is a consolidated event in Europe and in Italy, where it was estimated that in 2018 the average person spent almost 30 euros for the holiday, and a total of 15 million people that took part in the celebrations. The main target are young adults, between 18 and 24 years old, with 44 percent of them having chosen a Halloween-themed night in bars or restaurants, while among couples with children 15 percent of them spend time with monsters and witches.

If the critic that Halloween is a consumerist event is right, since it is a new holiday in Italy and it doesn’t share the same kind of support as other celebrations such as Christmas and Carnival, the critic about its importation is partially incorrect.

The History of Halloween

The celebration was born with the name of “Samhain” in the 4th century BC as the new year feast of the Celtic population to praise their gods and ancestors for the yield of the previous year. This celebration survived with the advent of Catholicism when All Saints’ Day was established by Pope Bonifacio IV on the first of November, a date that was previously the first day of the Celtic calendar.

If the modern Halloween is an American elaboration founded by Irish immigrants, then in Italy similar traditions are present nowadays that share some of those historic practices. The commemoration of the deceased has created, in many popular traditions, legends about spirits that come back to walk in the villages to visit those who are still alive. Monsters and scary figures are not unrelated to Italian traditions, like Krampus and the Sardinian Carnival masks.

To conclude, we could also say that there are ample examples of some Saints who have died for their Faith, along with many violent acts present throughout the Bible.