Saturday, November 1, 2014

Samhain and All Saints' Day

When I was growing up in France, we used to celebrate All Saints' Day on November 1st (They still do, mind you). Every year on that day—usually a bleak, blustery day—we would get up early to go to church, then go visit every cemetery in a 10-mile radius where relatives were buried. We would then gather at my grandparents' home for a midday feast before returning to church early in the afternoon and closing the day with yet another round of visits to neighboring cemeteries. I hated that day. With a passion.

I never heard of Halloween—and the word Samhain—until I moved to the US. I was struck by the celebratory mood surrounding a holiday that I had known for so long to bring forth sadness and heartache. Indeed, why not celebrate rather than mourn the dead? It didn't take long for that day to become one of my favorite holidays (my kids had a big part to play in that).

I love the spirit of Halloween/Samhain, how the living commune with the dead as the veil between both worlds fades to its thinnest. In all good fun. The way it should be.

Happy All Saints' Day everyone!