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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Italy Series at ItalianPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Italian holidays and observances. I’m Becky, and you're listening to Season 1 Lesson 12, All Saints' Day and All Souls’ Day.
As you know, Italy is traditionally a Catholic country, so many religious holidays are also observed as national holidays. This is the case with the Feast of All Saints, or Ognissanti,  which falls on November 1. This festival is also connected with All Souls' Day, observed on November 2, though this festival isn’t a public holiday.
In this lesson we’ll talk about how these traditions are celebrated in Italy and are related to the afterlife.
Now, before we go into more detail, we’ve got a question for you- Do you know why in some parts of Italy, such as Campania, it’s traditional to leave a bucket of water in the kitchen on the night of November 1?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
On the first of November, Italian people celebrate all the saints and martyrs of paradise by visiting church and offering prayers. However, this day is a cause for celebration even for non-believers as it is a public holiday – that is, no one works on this day and schools are closed.
Over the last few decades in Italy, as in many other countries, the night of October 31 has come to be celebrated as Halloween. All Saints' Day and Halloween actually have the same origin- they were both born from an ancient Celtic festival. In both cases, it’s the time when the living world comes in contact with the world of the dead.
Even though November 2 isn’t a public holiday, it’s still a very popular occasion and Italians take the day to remember the dead. In the past it was believed that the dead would return to Earth to be among the living and that’s why it was necessary to honor and remember them. For example, in the Piedmont region, in some homes people still follow a strange custom. On November 2, they set the table for an extra person, believing that their departed loved ones may come home and share the meal. You may not believe it, but during this festival Italians are very fond of eating the “bones of the dead”, or ossa di morto. Actually these are hollow white biscuits, but they look just like real bones. Despite the gloomy name, they’re really delicious!
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
Do you know why in some parts of Italy, such as Campania, it’s traditional to leave a bucket of water in the kitchen on the night of November 1?
It’s  because, just like in the Piedmont region, people believe that the dead may come home and so would need to quench their thirst after a long journey during the night.
Well listeners, how was this lesson? Did you learn something new?
Do you have an event for remembering deceased loved ones in your country?
Please leave a comment telling us at ItalianPod101.com.
See you next time!