Last weekend was All Hallows or the day for honouring the deceased. I was always under the impression that All Souls Day was 1st November and not the, now, generally accepted 2nd and I wondered why that should be.
It transpires that the day for venerating all the deceased, especially one’s ancestors was on 1st November (formerly the old festival Samhain when all the dead were honoured).
There is evidence that a festival was, at one time, held 13th May to celebrate the holy martyrs and Pope Gregory III decided back in the early eighth century that the celebration should be moved to the existing pagan festival day 1st November. This seems to have been, in part, because the large number of festivals around the April to May/June period meant that Rome was having difficulty coping with the huge influx of visitors.
However, it is always a problem when the Church latches on to a traditional pagan festival and tweaks it to suit its own purposes. The Church couldn’t let the honouring of its own martyrs be mixed in with those of the proletariat so the day for the hoi-polloi was moved to the 2nd and the 1st became, eventually, named All Saints’ Day.
Right on time, I had a Blog from a friend, the author Daniel Reveles, on the Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead):
“November 2nd is Memorial Day in Mexico, celebrating the life of the departed. Arrangements such as these with skulls, candles, fruit and marigolds are usually placed on the sideboard in the dining room. The table is laid with the favorite foods of the honored guests. Dia de los Muertos is not a solemn occasion. It is the joyous celebration of the life of the departed for family and friends gathered round the table and remember the absent with stories, funny anecdotes that give life to those no longer here. There is much laughter at table and the occasional tear. Following dinner pan de muerto is served, a delicious sweet bread laced with cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. At the cemetery the displays can be more elaborate with singing and dancing and that sweet melancholy music of mariachis. November 1st is called Dia de los Angelitos and is dedicated exclusively to children.”
If you haven’t already read any of Daniel’s books, we can thoroughly recommend them but be prepared to laugh out loud as he describes life in and around the little town of Tecate on the Mexican/U.S. border:
- Salsa and Chips,
- Enchiladas Rice and Beans,
- Tequila Lemon and Salt,
- Guacamole Dip,
- Love Potion and the latest,
- Play, Mariachis, Play!
They are available on Amazon and some are available on Kindle
If you want to subscribe to Daniel’s blog it is at: http://bajastoryteller.wordpress.com/ and the archives go way back.