Because I am resolutely pagan, we’re going to be celebrating the beginning of the dark half of the year old school at my house Wednesday night (October 31). For starters we’re going to make a big feast of a dinner and set a plate aside for our dead ancestors. I always make biscuits using my granddad’s recipe. We’ll make white gravy and eggs and coffee with cream and sugar just the way Granddad liked it. That plate will stay out on the table all night. We’ll stay home and give out candy to the trick-or-treaters, because our teenage daughter is too old for mom and pop’s company tonight. Understood. At some point in the evening we’ll tie knots into a piece of string or leather or yarn, and just as we yank the knot tight we’ll yank into it something we want to let go off in the coming year. And then we’ll throw that knot into the roaring fire in our fireplace. Sometime after that we’ll build a fire in our backyard and jump over it to make wishes come true. We’ll jump over that big fire and just at the top we’ll make our wish. We’ve been doing this every year for 25 years. When we couldn’t get pregnant, we wished for children. We don’t do that anymore. Continue reading
Halloween, falling as it does on the start of the darkest time of the year, focuses on those who have departed. In the United States, on October 31, the emphasis may be on ghosts, monsters, and scary pumpkin faces, but in earlier times, and in other cultures, this is the time to honor the dead.
In Mexico, indigenous customs mingled with the Spanish Catholic celebration of All Souls’ Day on November 1 (“Halloween” is an abbreviated version of All Hallows’ Eve), during which people pray for those who have died. The resulting holiday, Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos), is a joyful celebration of those who have died. Continue reading
Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) celebrations in Mexico honor those who have passed and serve as a memento mori to remind us of our own mortality. Greeting the Grim Reaper with a grin and an elbow to the bony ribs, art celebrating Day of the Dead depict skeletons – both human and animal – engaging in everyday activities, affirming there is indeed life after death.