Celebrate lost loved ones

St. Olav Church
The local St. Olav Church from 1250 reminds me of our old traditions, and some of them are worth keeping.

All Saints’ Day, All Hallows’ Day, Hallowmas, Feast of All Saints, Solemnity of All Saints. This days has different names in the English-speaking world, and in Mexico Dia de Muertos, Day of the Dead, is a public holiday. This is a Christian festival, but many don’t seem to realize that Halloween is too.

All Saints’ Day is a Christian festival where we honour the saints and on All Souls’ Day we commemorate our dead relatives. If you want to be accurate you are supposed to think about the faithful departed, so if you have been naughty I am afraid you can’t expect much from the living. Being faithful seems to be a minimum requirement.

Some believe Halloween was Christian from the beginning, while others think the Catholic church tried to Christianize the Celtic Samhain in the 8th century. No matter how you look at it this is a pretty long Christian tradition. It is important to note that pagan means pre-Christian and not occult.

I often pass a window downtown with a showcase/advertisement telling me that I can pay them to light a candle or put flowers on a grave. I thought the point was to remember the people that meant something to me, but if I don’t want the intimacy of going to the grave, it seems strange to pay someone to care. On the other hand, we don’t have to see the tombstone in order to think about our loved ones, and November 1 is a good day for it.

The Mexican tradition makes sense to me. I was eleven when my father died. The grown-ups around me went crazy, and although they had been talking about how wonderful it was going to be in heaven, it clearly wasn’t any easier for them to deal with it. I can understand it better today because no matter what you think happens, or doesn’t happen after death, it is the end of life. I hope there is an afterlife, but it’s not going to work if we remember the conflicts and unfriendly people we knew. So even in the most positive view it means that we are leaving for good. I think God would have had a bit of a challenge if we brought our memories, and I am not sure I would find happiness there if I had to forgive everything.

Dia de Muertos seems to be a much bigger event in Mexico than All Souls’ Day is to Europeans. This is a film about a child thinking about her dead mother. It’s a shame many see the grave yard as a creepy place, but maybe Mexican children learn to deal with death without suppressing these thoughts? This film does’t appear to have a preview image, but the film will still play

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One thought on “Celebrate lost loved ones

  1. I believe death often brings into clear focus the reality of our own mortality. Missing a loved one can cause us to consider what might be waiting on the other side of the veil, so to speak.

    It is important to note that pagan means pre-Christian and not occult.

    I suspect the pagan cultures had an awareness of God, that something has gone dreadfully wrong with His creation, and a hope for eventual restoration. The Bible says that the Hebrew people had been given a trust to hold onto regarding the identity of our universal Savior.

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