Remembrance Holidays

Greetings Further Shore Friends,

We are fast approaching the holidays of remembrance. These holidays preclude the crazy busy holiday season that starts with Thanksgiving and ends with New Year’s Day. The remembrance holidays invite us to remember, honor, and celebrate the lives of loved ones who have left physical life, yet live on in our memories. Here are some notes about the days of remembrance that might inspire you to celebrate a departed dear one.

  • October 31 – Halloween is also known as All Hallows Eve and Samhain (pronounced sow’wen). Halloween is a mash up between pagan and Christian traditions. All Hallows Eve, meaning All Saints’ Eve, marked the night before the celebration of All Saints’ Day. Samhain is a Celtic holiday celebrated from sunset on October 31st until sunset on November 1st honoring the last harvest and remembering the dead. The ancient Celts believed that on Samhain the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead was very thin and thus, the spirits of the dead (ghosts) were able to visit the living. An early tradition was to dress up in disguise or costume and go door to door offering prayers for the dead in exchange for food. Today that tradition is mostly about kids in costumes, “trick or treating” for candy. Halloween also places on pumpkin carving, haunted houses, watching scary movies, corn mazes, hayrides. I like to think about Halloween and this entire cross quarter holiday as a time to enter into a more internal, quiet time.
  • November 1All Saints’ Day is also known as All Hallows Day or Hallowmas. This a Christian holiday to honor all known and unknown saints and martyrs. The faithful mark the day by going to church, praying to known saints, lighting candles, and visiting the decedents’ graves to place flowers.
  • November 2All Souls’ Day is the third holiday in Hallowtide or Allhallowtide, a Christian triduum (three day religious observance) to honor the dead. Considered an extension of All Saints’ Day, traditions are much the same. The difference lies in how the dead are perceived. While All Saints’ Day prayers are for those who are sure to be in heaven, All Souls’ Day prayers are for those who have not yet reached heaven.
  • October 31 through November 2Dia de los Muertos is a three-day Mexican holiday to receive souls of dead relatives with joy and hospitality. Preparations begin the evening of October 31st, and the official holidays are November 1st, Dia de los Inocentes (dedicated to infants and children) and November 2nd Dia de los Muertos (dedicated day of the dead). This tradition began over 2,000 years ago and was originally held in August. After colonization and Christianization, the celebration was moved to November to coincide with Hallowtide. Observance traditions include bringing food and drink to gravesites, lighting candles, creating ofrendas to welcome and honor the deceased, making sugar skulls, sweet breads, and other treats to share with family and visiting spirits. Marigolds are placed on ofrendas, in parks, on doorsteps and graves during this holiday. The flower is bright orange, and its strong fragrance is believed to attract spirits. The parade that takes place in Mexico City is a relatively new tradition. Revelers dress in colorful clothes, carry pictures of deceased relatives, and have sugar skull face paint. Overall these days are a beautiful celebration of life and the lives of those remembered.

Leave a Reply