On October 31 children in the United States rejoice because they know what Halloween means not only do they get to put on a cool costume and deceive the neighbors, but they also get candy, and lots of it. It is a holiday that is celebrated in many countries, though rarely in Italy, making the day a bit of a letdown for American students studying abroad. Still, some bars and clubs capitalize on the occasion, and offer themed parties for those keen to dress up in costume. Trick or treating, carving pumpkins, bobbing for apples, hay mazes and haunted houses all are part of the tradition that is Halloween. The modern tradition of Halloween that we celebrate today is thought to have evolved from folk customs and beliefs from Celtic countries, some of which likely have pagan roots and others of which likely evolved from Christianity. Samhain, a Celtic festival, was timed to celebrate the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. Halloween, or All Hallow’s Eve also falls on the day before All Saint’s Day. In the early church vigils were held the night before as a time for honoring the saints and the deceased. It was believed that All Hallow’s Eve allowed the souls of the dead to roam about Earth to gain vengeance, so people would wear costumes to disguise themselves, a tradition that while much more secular now, continues to this day. For the truly dedicated, Halloween in Florence is arguably best spent at home. It’s easy enough to assemble many of the components for a great celebration: the euro store gets into the spirit, selling costume accessories like witches hats and bags of candy, and though pumpkins are rare you can usually find something resembling what you would buy at home at the Mercato Centrale for carving. The best way to spend the early evening before going home to party, though? Check out the stores in the town from a nearby bar or piazza while the little expat and some Italian children go trick-or-treating… you won’t even miss your American cul-de-sac.
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