It's a beautiful day today - a cold, crisp, bright, and sunny Halloween day. Halloween is my favorite holiday. It's one time of year during which I am able to step wholly into the mystical. It's a great feeling. On this day I rejoice in my faith tradition that celebrates the communion of those who have died with those who still live.
Over the years Halloween has been slandered by ignorant people who have no understanding of its origins or real meaning. Dating back to the Celts who celebrated the new year on November 1, October 31 was the festival of Samhain, the Lord of the Dead. Celts believed that on this day the veil separating the living and the dead lifted and the souls of those who had died could roam the earth. Ghouls and goblins would also arise. Bonfires were lit to scare away evil spirits and people donned masks. When the Romans conquered the Celts, they brought some of their own traditions and added them to those of the Celts, including bobbing for apples and drinking cider. In 835, Pope Gregory IV moved the Church's tradition of remembering martyrs from May 13 to November 1, which became All Saints Day, replacing the remembrance of martyrs with the rembrance of the saints of the Church. All Souls Day followed on November 2. October 31 marks the eve of these holy days and was thus known as All Hallows Eve or Holy Evening. Later it became known simply as Halloween.
Mexican Catholics celebrate the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos), beginning with "Dia de los Angelitos" (day of the little children). Like Samhain, this festival predates the introduction of Christianity to Mexico. After the Christian conquest of Mexico, the dates of the Mexican festival were changed to coincide with All Saints and All Souls Days on November 1 and 2. In Mexico flower petals show the dead the way home or to an altar made by family members. It is a celebratory time with particular local customs. Sugar skulls, temporary altars, candles on graves, eating fruit, singing songs, saying prayers, family suppers, special bread, skeleton adornments, and parades mark the special days.
I remember my father, my grandparents, and even pets I have loved. I give thanks for their presence in my heart and for the honor of knowing them. I also remember they surround me with love and support even though they do not live on this earth any longer.
Happy Halloween! I hope we all have meaningful All Saints and All Souls Days.