Have you ever heard the Italian expression “canestro dei morti“? And what about the Sicilian “u’ cannistru ri morti“? Maybe from your grandmother or grandfather?
The word “canestro” means basket and nothing is more typical in Sicily, and in particular in the city of Palermo, than this traditional basket prepared for the kids on the night between the 1st and the 2n of November. Unfortunately nowadays less and less families keep this tradition alive but is still important to remember it for our future generations.
|Small version of the Taralli cookies, traditionally
placed in the basket for the kids on November 2nd.
In our tradition, on the 2nd of November children used to receive a present. It was basically a basket (u’ cannistru) full of cookies, sweets and sometimes toys.
Why? Well... they were told that these presents were coming from the loving dead relatives that, even though departed, still cared about them and loved them, so they were making feeling their presents through this basket, whose name “basket of the departed” (cesto dei morti) is self-explanatory.
In the basket there was the delicious and colorful Frutta di Martorana.
But what else was there? Usually some traditional local cookies prepared only for this occasion: taralli, reginelle, tetù and catalani (which you can see in the two pics below).
Finally, in the basket, you can also find the so called “ossa di morto”, (which literally means dead bones), another kind of biscuits who is quite hard, as the name suggests.
Macabre?Well, as you can see we are even more creative that the whole Halloween theme, we even got to eat the symbol of the bones of our dear dead ones!!!
So… if you happen to be in Sicily in this period, remember this significant tradition, try the cookies, have some Martorana, ….. you definitely don’t wanna miss out!
See also another typical recipe of this festivity here: the Rame di Napoli.