Honor your ancestors


This week we have Halloween, a holiday associated with scaring us and scary things. Have you looked at pictures of Halloween and Halloween costumes from the early 20th century? Ewww; now that's creepy. At least, I think so. But it goes to show that celebrations, while they remain with us, change with time, place and lifestyle.

Halloween exists for a reason that seems to have gotten lost in the noise and consumerism of our time - it is the holy evening prior to All Saints Day, November 1. In spite of our current practices of trick-or-treating, handing out individually packaged mini candy bars, wearing superhero costumes and almost voluptuous yard decorations, Halloween is a backformation from a practice from a holier time. But either way, it is seen as the time of year when the veil between the living and the dead is thinnest - when we might actually communicate with the dead - and, so, we have images of graveyards, skeletons, ghosts, all reminiscent of death.


Less holy but more humane, I suppose, is the following day, All Soul’s Day. The holy saints may be afoot on the eve of their celebration day, the first of November, but our human loved ones get the second day. If you are Mexican, Central American or just culturally clued in (did you watch Disney's Coco?), then you know that November 2 is Dios de los Muertos, the day of the dead. In their expression of the holiday, the dead are revered, honored, celebrated and remembered on November 2 and, again, more accessible to us then than at any other time of year.

Celts celebrated Samhain in late October between the fall equinox and winter solstice, an end-of-harvest celebration when, once again, the boundary between our world and the spirit world was most permeable. Their version also lasted several days.


Needless to say, this is a strange year with our pandemic. There is a lot that seems scary, but maybe it's not, after all. Maybe we just need to reframe it. Whether you are figuring out new or old ways to celebrate Halloween with your young children, family or friends, or finding safe new ways to celebrate with your adult friends, or maybe just turning off your porch light and staying in, take time this week to remember those whose lights burned brightly in your life before they crossed over. Honor them. Love them. Another thought: if there are negative memories or disappointments, they are gone now so that’s never going to happen again. You can decide to hold on to those or to let those go. So, remember that while your loved ones may be gone, everything that was good about them can live on in your heart, your memory, your actions. Not scary at all.

© 2015 - 2020 by Meg Reilly. All rights reserved.

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