Activity 2 – Rites of Passage – Sarah Wagner

What are common rites of passage in Italy and how are they celebrated?

The most cherished rites of passage in Italy are private moments which includes birth, marriage, and death.  Although time has changed, I’ll discuss the traditional celebrate for a funeral.

Traditionally, major events are observed with dishes that originated back to the Renaissance.  For funerals, in the north, cooking is part of the mourning process.  It represents a sign of grief.  Friends and family will bring their condolences in the form of food before and after the funeral.  There isn’t a specific food associated to death in the North.  In Southern Italy the mourning family would not cook so they can have time to mourn.  A ritual meal friends would cook for the family is called “u cunsulo” with the base ingredient “bollito”.

Chrysanthemums is a ritual flower of death and is never given as a gift because it is inviting death into the house.  In Sicily it is placed on the tomb on the Day of the Dead (November 2).  The families set the table for those who are dead for the night of All Souls’ Day (November 1).  That same night parents hide gifts for the children to look for the following day and when a child finds a gift he or she will yell thank yous to his or her dead ancestors.  Fava beans are served on the Day of the Dead in “dead men’s cookies” and “bones of the dead”.  Although death is still respected in these days, Italy is slowly losing these traditions.

Field, C. (2010). Rites of Passage in Italy. Gastronomic, 10, 32-37. doi: 10.1525/gfc.2010.10.1.32

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