Marzipan for All Souls Day

We are upon the feast celebrations of the Day of the Dead (Giorno dei Morti, or in Sicilian, Un juornu re muorti), All Saints Day, and All Souls Day (Nov. 2). Although traditions are changing as a result of the modern world, in the past, on November 2, Sicilians, who have a profound appreciation for the connection of life and death, spent the holiday recognizing their dead loved ones by visiting their graves to pay tribute. They ritually had picnics at the graves. Today, however, celebrating the dead with a feast is done more often at home. To avoid scaring the children too much with the summoning the dead, which is the object of the feast, there is a tradition of the youngsters waking up to find toys or sweets that have been left by the visiting dead relatives. Before the mid-20th century, that meant frutta Martorana (marzipan sculpted to look like fruit, like that pictured by my friend, master artisan Alessandro Marchese) and sugar dolls, called pupaccene, which are still made today explicitly for this holiday by a handful of artisan bakers in Sicily.

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