Tuesday, November 2, 2010

All Souls Day

   When I was at gallery night in Providence a couple of weeks ago, my favorite part of the evening was spent at Peaceable Kingdom looking at all the neat folk art items pertaining to the Day of the Dead (Nov. 2 ). What I like about the store is that the owners often go to the countries and purchase the wares directly from the artists.
   I was surprised to find one of the most beautiful pieces of clothing I've ever seen and which I now own: a jacket with the image of Our Lady Guadalupe on the back with milagros (small religious charms found in Latin America) pinned to the front. It's cut like a traditional denim jacket and is made with beautiful dark blue cloth.
  Today is All Souls Day. Although I think of my deceased relatives each and every day (it's hard not to remember the departed who played an important role in my life), Roman Catholics pay respect to the dead on Nov. 2:  those who are in Heaven and the souls of the faithful in Purgatory.
  Seventh century monks are credited with celebrating the first All Souls Day with a Mass on the day after Pentecost for deceased family, friends, and members of the community.
  In the late tenth century, Benedictine monks at the monastery in Cluny, France moved the Mass to Nov. 2, so it would be the day after All Saints Day.
  It may seem morbid to some, but recognizing the deceased is totally acceptable on Memorial Day, so All Souls Day shouldn't be any different.
  Last week, I found a book on the history of the Day of the Dead in Mexico and other countries at a library book sale and now I consider myself more educated on the subject (especially the sugar candy skulls that are used as food offerings to the dead). And I got my five-year-old nephew Eric, whose birthday is Nov. 2, a special Day of the Dead puzzle as a Halloween gift with candy.
  "The day which we fear as our last is the but the birthday of eternity." (Lucius Annaeus Seneca)

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