The Italian Almanac

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Italian News - October24

Despite protests from religious authorities, Halloween has taken root in Italy. In just a few years, this imported pagan festival has become an accepted custom in the Bel Paese and a 250 million euro yearly business, according to consumer group Codacons. "Halloween is starting to overshadow carnival," said Enrico Brusa, president of a party supply company in Genova. "More people are choosing to throw parties on Oct. 31, it's more trendy, more original compared to the usual costume party for carnival."

Halloween hasn't had a warm welcome in this Catholic country. In 2004, religious authorities in Palermo and Vicenza spoke out against the American holiday, the latter 'suppressing' a party for children organized by the city council. In 2001, Rosario Crocetta, head of public schools in Gela, Sicily offered about $500 bonus to schools as an incentive to not throw Halloween parties for elementary and middle school students.

Italian celebrations have a few interesting local twists. Events this year include wine tasting/salsa-dancing fest and a "Miss Strega" (Miss Witch) beauty contest. Trick-or-treating is still un common, Halloween costume parties for children are often organized as part of Italy's fall food celebrations. Instead of the usual prepackaged hard candies, Italian kids can stuff themselves with pumpkin risotto, porcini mushrooms and chestnut specialties.

Italians are also busy inventing a local alternative to the 'dolcetto' (treat) as this year's contest in Modena contest for chocolatiers to invent a 'Halloween sweet' shows.