She got up before sunset to go down to kitchen and prepare the dough for the bread that she would then bring to the baker. (Exactly, once many people couldn’t afford an oven and thus they made the dough at home and then brought it to the local baker “forner” to bake it.)
She searched for a firestone, but just couldn’t find it, when she saw a strange light falling through the closed shutters in the kitchen. (Who could this be so early in the morning?)
The procession of the dead
The housewife was curious, opened the shutters and saw a strange procession in the street: Dozens of men and women with sunken faces, walked silently, with their hands stretched up to the sky. The fingers were spread and a strange light was emitting from their fingertips.
It was the dead! In the night of the 1st November, the dead could freely walk through the streets. The housewife just didn’t think about it or was naive and asked the last defunct, holding her lamp in his face, if he could light it for her.
The dead man did as he was asked, but when the woman had a better look at the lamp she saw that the arm of the defunct had stayed attached to it. She finally realized that this had been the yearly procession of the dead!
She took the dough, brought it to the baker and then went to the priest for an advice: „You shouldn’t have done this! The procession of the defunct may not be disturbed. Now you have to wait 12 months to give the arm back to its owner.“ But what should she do with it in the meanwhile? (“Preserve it in semolina!“)
After one year …
When the year had passed the woman did as the priest had told her: She took the arm from the semolina, held a black cat in her lap and sat at the exact same time as the year before at the window waiting for the procession. This time, the light did not emit from the fingertips, but from the palm. Then she spotted the mutilated defunct at the end of the procession.
„Ciapé, paron, el vostro brazo.“ („Here, take your arm, sir.“)
The defunct took the arm without looking at the woman and attached it to his body. “Thank God that you have a cat on your lap, otherwise you would have suffered the same destiny as I.” (She would have died!)
But some years later …
This incident had not been a lesson for the housewife though: A few years later she popped her head out again in the night of the 1st November. This time she asked a dead woman to light her lamp. The woman loathly did as she was asked. A cold breeze streaked the housewife in the same moment and she felt a tickle in her right arm. When she looked down, her arm was missing and she fainted because of the shock.
This time she didn’t go to the priest for help, but to an old witch living close by: „Next year, when the procession passes again, you have to cover your head with a black veil and hold a black cat at her neck in your hand offering the dead woman a plate with fave dei morti*. Also, tell the dead woman the following sentence:
Ciapé, brava parona, par el vostro incomodo. Dolséti fati da mi in cambio del mio brasso!“ (Here, good Lady, for your trouble. I made these sweets myself in exchange for my arm!”)
Now, when the night of the 1st November arrived after 12 long months without her right arm, the woman did exactly what the witch had told her and stopped the dead lady who wore her arm as a trophy attached to her belt. The dead woman didn’t look at her, but at the dark sky, took the “dead beans” and put them in her bag. A cold breeze hit the housewife, the cat escaped into a side street and she felt a tickle. When she looked down she found her arm again attached to her own body.
After this last incident, the housewife stayed in her house every night of the 1st November without popping her curious head out of the window, but the nails of her right arm stayed forever black to remember her of this last encounter with the dead.
*„dead beans“ are a traditional sweets made for the occasion of Allhallows and All Souls‘ Day in Venice.