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Halloween in Sardinia: its true origins and traditions

Have you ever discussed the origins of the autumn celebration par excellence? According to Sardinians, this festivity and the traditions that characterise it originated among the Nuraghi. Halloween in Sardinia in fact has special rites and meanings dating back to ancient times.

Are you curious to know how Halloween originated in Sardinia and how it is celebrated?

Let’s find out together!

The Origins of Halloween in Sardinia

Is it possible that the origins of Halloween lie in Sardinia?

For the locals, the answer to this question will always be yes. And indeed, the celebration that takes place in the region has very ancient origins and the similarities with the Anglo-Saxon Halloween are striking. But there are also differences that make the Sardinian festivity truly unique and special.

Let us start from the beginning.

Generally speaking, all Halloween customs are linked to a belief shared by various peoples of the past.

For them, on the night between 31 October and 1 November, something happens that is as extraordinary as it is disturbing.

The distance between the world of the dead and the world of the living is shortened to such an extent that the former can easily cross the border and freely visit the Earth.

On this occasion, a series of rites and traditions come to life to celebrate the dead, and on closer inspection, in Sardinia, they can actually be traced back to the Nuragic period.
These include the Sardinian version of Jack ‘o Lantern, the classic Halloween pumpkin.

Jack ‘o Lantern, the Sardinian.

The Sardinian Halloween pumpkin has very little to do with the Anglo-Saxon one. It originates from an ancient ritual practised by druids in the Nuragic age and common to both Sardinia and Corsica.

At that time, in the period that is currently dedicated to the commemoration of the dead, Sardinians used to go to the cemetery to take skulls and then use them as a key element during their prayers for rain.

In time, the skulls were replaced by less blasphemous gourds that resembled their features.
That is why, even today, beautiful round pumpkins are used to decorate homes in many parts of Sardinia.

But did you know that there is also a Sardinian “Trick or Treat”?

“Si onada a is animasa?” is the new “Trick or Treat?”

Food has always played a very important role in rituals and celebrations related to the dead.
In fact, to maintain the memory of the offerings to the dead practised in antiquity, Sardinian families have for centuries set an extra place at the table on the night when the dead return to visit the earth.

A plate of home-made pasta, a jug of water, a glass of wine and cutlery.

The meal was there for the souls of the dead, who would eat it by candlelight. It was in fact customary to leave a small lamp on the table or a lit candle to provide light during the night hours.

Besides this, there were other ways for the deceased to enjoy the pleasure of food.

For example, the classic “trick or treat”.

In Sardinia, on Halloween, children have always wandered around town knocking on doors armed with an old sack or pillowcase to ask ‘Si onada a is animasa?’ demanding dried fruit and typical saba sweets.

Popular belief has it that, by eating the sweets they receive, they reach the dead.

Halloween legends in Sardinia

There are also many stories told on Halloween night related to ancient Sardinian folk legends.

Among them is that of the “Panas”.

The Panas are the spirits of women who died in childbirth. According to legend, on the Day of the Dead they can be found at the banks of rivers intent on doing laundry and chatting with each other.
They have a very peculiar characteristic. Apparently they are rather touchy, and if a living person were to disturb them, they would splash him with river water burning like live flames.

Rather disturbing!

Another interesting legend is the one of Ruxìa Rabiosa, a very rich woman who owned vast and fertile lands.

Deespite her wealth she was very stingy, so God, on the day dedicated to the dead, punished her avarice turning her into stone together with all the objects she owned.
Legend has it that, even today, the things that belonged to Ruxìa Rabiosa can be found scattered around Sardinia.

Autumn holidays in Sardinia for Halloween

The best way to experience and discover Halloween and Sardinian culture is with a beautiful autumn holiday in Sassari!

Book your ideal stay at Domus 81 Luxury Villa and discover magical places with ancient and immortal traditions, among the warmth and hospitality of those who live Sardinia every day.

Domus 81 villa sardinia

Surrounded by greenery, just a few minutes from the historic centres of Sassari and Alghero, the villa is surrounded by facilities for sporting activities and paths for walking, cycling or trekking. Consisting of two units with independent entrances, it can accommodate up to 12 people.

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