All Saints Day

Today, November 1st, 2011, marks a holiday many around the world celebrate.
Yet very few people here in the U.S. know of its existence. I had mostly forgotten about it until my husband said “Happy All Saints Day” as I was working on Aberon this morning.
After I gave him a quizzical look, he explained All Saints Day to me. The night before, All Hallows Eve, all of the demons are given free rein upon the earth to do as they will for one day. The next day, The Saints of Heaven are unleashed upon the Earth to seal away the devils until the next year’s All Hallows Eve.

Somehow that turned into upstanding citizens dressing up as the devils themselves and going around bothering the neighbors for candy.
This, along with almost every other holiday, is a prime example of how many sacred, religious reverences can decay over time into something incredibly commercialized and completely overlooked by the general populace. Almost everywhere else in the world observes All Saints Day: Those in Spain, Mexico and Portugal observe it as the first Day of the Dead. Offerings are made this day to those who have passed on and deserve the remembrance of the living.

In Mexico, today is known as “Día de los Inocentes” or the day of the innocent. This day is set aside to remember children and infants who have passed on.

Portuguese children celebrate the day by going door to door to receive cakes, nuts and pomegranates (something I would gladly take over candy!) Likely this is where the “trick or treat” tradition in the U.S. has developed from.

People from the Philipines, Argentina, Belgium, France, Hungary, Italy, Luxemburg, Malta, Portugal, Spain, and even places a bit closer to home like the New Orleans take flowers to honor the graves of relatives who have passed on. Those in Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, some parts of Germany and Sweden similarly visit the graves of their loved ones who have passed on and light candles there.

Whatever tradition arises, the sentiment is the same. Now is the time to honor those who have passed before us, those of great character. Those close to our heart.
Earlier today, I read this touching eulogy for Steve Jobs written by his sister. Though we have all seen many works in tribute to Steve Jobs, I think this is the greatest one I have seen yet.
When I read it, I had the crazy thought that I wanted to go like this: remembered by so many who stay behind as one who kept going, one who changed the world with who they were, where they wanted to go.

I want to remember my grandfather. My mother’s father, Michael, passed on about eight years ago. While I don’t remember much of him, I have since felt his warm presence at key times in my life. Times when I thought I could not go on, times when my family faced tremendous crisis I felt him right there by my side.
I can’t thank him in person just yet, but I want all you readers to know that I love him. And that if his grave were close enough for me to do so, I would take the time out of my busy schedule to honor him, to thank him there.

Who in your life has passed on and warrants your remembrance? Your reverence and gratitude? Today is theirs.

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