Exploring Sorrento's Festive Holidays

An exciting aspect of study abroad is learning and experiencing new holidays and the traditions of the place you are in – for me, it’s Sorrento.

Typically, the month of October signifies the changing of seasons, cozy sweater weather, and that the fall holidays such as Halloween and Thanksgiving will be approaching soon. 

Halloween and All Saints' Day in Sorrento

I was unsure of what a very popular holiday in America would be like here in the smaller Italian coastal town of Sorrento.

The weeks leading up to Halloween I noticed stores had decorations and the grocery stores had a small selection of Halloween themed candy and goodies.

When I first saw these in the beginning of October I was so ecstatic. 

I love holidays and anything that gives an excuse to decorate, so of course I bought a few things to make my dorm room feel spooky and Halloween-y.

To get even more in the spirit, I made a couple of my friends some Halloween goodie-bags full of on theme treats and candy for the holiday!

Sorrento's Unique Holiday Traditions

While I still had enormous amounts of excitement for October 31st to come around, I was also eager to learn and find out more about local traditions.

One of the most important Catholic holiday celebrated in Italy is, infact, All Saints’ Day.

This is celebrated on both November 1st and 2nd, which is the All Souls’ Day.

November 1st is when the Catholic Church commemorates all of the saints.

November 2nd instead is the day that people honor their own lost loved ones.

I felt very lucky to attend a school such as Sant’Anna with staff that took the time to answer questions regarding the holiday and provide insight. 

A common notion that I was told about Italy is that food plays a huge role in connecting with others and bringing people together, including at events such as funerals and mourning the losses of loved ones.

When I was told this on All Saints’ Day, it was being explained in relation to a popular dessert called “torroncini, which you can find in most cafes and cake shops around this holiday. 

These desserts – filled with chocolate, nuts and other more – are served and are supposed to be comforting in a sense and lift up spirits from their sweet taste when people are mourning.

My friends and I knew we had to try it as soon as we heard about it, so we stopped by Bar Veneruso and they did not disappoint.

Food and Connection: A Sorrento Experience

After I learned a bit more about the idea of food bringing people together in such an important way, I found it sweet and full-circle that my friends and I had just participated in a pasta making class on Halloween, just a day before All Saints’ Day.

I hadn’t even known it at the time, but this was connecting the two holidays together for me in a memorable way.

We learned how to make gnocchi from scratch and used our skills to make a batch of our own, the food and experience connecting us

This activity made Halloween here feel so much more special;

after taking the 1st and 2nd of November to reflect on these different holidays, I felt so appreciative of the opportunity to experience both holidays in Sorrento, as well as the fact that gnocchi and torroncini were both involved. 

I can’t wait now for the Christmas Holiday cheer to spread through Sorrento, and you’ll definitely see an article from me about it!