All Souls’

tis the season for cemetery talk I guess!

All Souls’ Day has always fascinated me. Maybe not always, but ever since Italy when Taffco was first exposed to the ritual of visiting the graves of the departed en masse. The cemetery was crowded, a parade was had and flowers and gifts were everywhere. We celebrated with H and R in our own fashion, there was no trick or treating in Castel del Piano so the grownups must’ve felt something needed to be done for these American kids. We sat in the dark and ate chestnut soup (All Saints Day, November 1, marks the first day of open-door chestnut harvesting, meaning, anyone can tromp through your woods and gather the chestnuts you missed) and read “The Cremation of Sam McGee,” Poe, and other eerie tales by candlelight.

Growing up Baptist in Mississippi, All Souls Day is a mystery to me and not until recently did I bother to look up the confusing logistics. Liturgically the string of Halloween-All Saints-All Souls Day is of course a primarily Catholic observance with some Anglicans joining in the rituals. All Saints Day perhaps is more commonly observed on November 1, the day after All Hallows Eve (which we all know well), but the liturgical Day of the Dead follows All Saints on November 2. All Souls Day, Day of the Dead, Il Giorno dei Morti, The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (Catholic), Feast of All Souls (Episcopalian), these are the names it goes by. While All Saints Day commemorates those who have attained the beatific vision of heaven, All Souls Day is an effort to urge the souls who had not attained such perfection in life onward through Purgatory toward a happy ending.

Personally I just like the solemnity of sitting in a darkened church, listening to music and vespers and contemplating the souls of those who have gone before, which is exactly what Viv and I are going to do tomorrow evening.

st barts

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