Families of Albanian origin continue to preserve the tradition of the funeral banquet ... even in Trieste
A few days ago I received a call from Trieste: "Titi left us!" ... She was the daughter of a well-known doctor from Scutari, Dr. Naraci. It came from one of those families of Italian origin left in Albania after the war, but which in Italy are considered of Albanian origin ... It was a friend of mine to tell me the sad news: one of those "calls" that when you receive them you can not do anything else what to leave.
It is said that mourning is metaphorically a journey: during my metaphorical and real journey, from Florence to Trieste, the meanings of the "journey" multiplied and the puzzle of life and death became even more intricate. I always wanted to forget these "trips" but, when I received "that call" again, I found myself back and forth, without having understood much about life or death and, with the same questions in mind, I still don't understand today ... I later attended the funeral. After the funeral, friends and family took part in the funeral banquet.
The tradition of the funeral feast
The sense of the funeral banquet, still in use, both for Catholics and for Muslims, with some minor differences regarding the ritual and the menu, has remained the same: being with relatives and friends to give courage to those who are experiencing a painful moment.
In Albania, long ago, people used to photograph the dead, it was especially useful for those who did not have a photograph of the deceased. The photographer, after also taking care of the subsequent development and printing phases, delivered prints and negatives to the customer; the eyes were drawn as open, retouching the photograph that was used for the death poster or for the photo-commemorative porcelain for the tomb. Moreover, by addressing some artist photographers, you could opt for a "coloring" of the photo in black and white. For obvious reasons, these techniques are no longer used, also because, between mobile phones with built-in cameras and cameras, photographing everything and everyone has become a craze.
With the arrival of the new means of transport, which facilitated the mobility of people, the tradition of funeral lunch in many parts of Italy has been lost, so it is no longer required to organize a banquet at the home of the deceased or at the restaurant. Nevertheless, the custom of the banquet continues today in Friuli.
In families of Albanian origin, in addition to the lunch, photographs were added after the banquet. We feel the need to be together and help each other in the moment of pain, seeing each other again after a long time is also, in some way, "recognizing" ourselves between relatives and friends. Thinking of death as a passage, the banquet, like the simple coffee offered by the family of the deceased after the funeral ceremony, (in Albania, Catholics also offer brandy and cigarettes) represents a moment in which the moment of passage to the other dimension and earthly life for those who have remained.
The characteristic of a funeral banquet is not the sadness among the participants, but the joy, as far as possible, thus removing past contrasts and grudges. The funeral meal becomes a unifying element to strengthen the bonds of union and family harmony, entrusting a social value to the ritual and helping those who have lost a loved one to better mourn. Subsequently, the photograph itself does not seem to have a precise meaning but, the gesture of accepting to photograph oneself together becomes a symbol, reinforcing a pact of friendship, for those still alive ...
The society changes and with it the traditions and customs, but the community of Albanian origin continues to preserve the tradition of the funeral banquet, also in Trieste.
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