How will your family be celebrating Halloween today? In North America most children have a grand time dressing up as their favorite super hero or Disney princess and going around the neighborhood Trick-or-treating. I’ve laid in store of small candy bars to greet our young visitors and decorated my doorstep with pumpkins and gourds.
In Ireland, where many believe Halloween originated from a Celtic festival, they enjoy barmbrack, a kind of fruitcake. A muslin-wrapped treat is baked inside the cake that, it is said, can foretell the eater’s future. If a ring is found, it means that the person will soon be wed; a piece of straw means that a prosperous year is on its way. Children are also known to play tricks on their neighbors, such as “knock-a-dolly,” a prank in which children knock on the doors of their neighbors, but run away before the door is opened.
In Mexico The Day of the Dead is a national holiday. Families remember their departed with processions and with picnics in cemeteries, usually eating a favorite dish of the departed. Celebrations often include the strains of a mariachi band.
My adopted grandson who grew up as an orphan in Russia has vivid memories of running through the cemetery, eating candy from the graves left by the families of the departed.
In Italy a special bread called Pan co’ Santi, “Bread with Saints” is the seasonal treat prepared in honor of All Saint’s Day, the 1st of November. In Tuscan dialect the saints are walnuts and raisins that you can find inside this fluffy and sweet bread.
In the Church of England All Saints’ Day, November 1, is a celebratory feast marked with white and gold vestments and incense in memory of the saints. The next day, All Souls’ of the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed is dedicated to remembering all our departed loved ones. This day is marked with a somber service of black vestments, ochre colored candles and tolling for the dead, sometimes with muffled bells.
However the season is kept, it shows the fascination and deep concern that human beings have always had regarding death and what happens to the dead. This is especially appropriate to Christianity because death and questions of the world to come stand at the very heart of our faith. After all, the death of one man and his resurrection are the centerpiece of Christianity and inform our beliefs about the state of the dead and the future of all mortals.
It can also be a time to contemplate—a time to deal with the reality of death—our own, as well as the death of others. In these days we bring death and the dead into the light; to mourn, but not to despair; even more, to celebrate what needs to be celebrated. Most of all we are to see life as a gift and death as a new beginning.
For more information on the spiritual significance of All Saints’ and All Souls’Donna Fletcher Crow’s ANewly Crimsoned Reliquary draws the All Saints’ and All Souls’ observances in vivid detail. It will remain on .99 special through Nov 2.