The night of All Saints in Sardinia: fantastic creatures
Each year for the festivity of All Saints, ancient rites are re-enacted on the island: “Su mortu mortu”, “Is Animeddas”, “Su Prugadoriu” or “Is Panixeddas”, all stemming from folk tales about the souls of the dead.
Legend has it that on the night dedicated to the departed, their souls can re-enter the world of the living. Over the centuries, these tales have given rise to a fascinating custom: the children and youngsters will run through the narrow streets of Sardinia’s towns and villages, with their faces blackened with coal dust, demanding of the old folk sweets and dried fruit, with various formulas in the local language, such as “seus benius po is animeddas, mi das fait po praxeri is animeddas?”, or “seu su mortu mortu”. Many families will leave a small lantern (lantia) lit through the night and food on the table so that these souls can feel at home.
The local legends are also fed by the archaeological remains dotting the island, such as the megalithic “giants’ graves” or the chamber tombs known as domus de Janas (houses of the fairies), and by medieval architecture. The basilisk, one of the most curious and eerie legendary animal in medieval bestiaries, was long known in Sardinia as another fantastic creature, the iscurtone or sculzone.