This is celebrated on the 1st of November by the Christian and Catholic faith around the world and is in remembrance of all men and women, known and unknown, who sacrificed themselves for their faith and have attained heaven. It serves as a reminder of just how powerful their faith was in trying times and how much suffering they had to endure. It inspires others to be just like them in times of trial and to always turn to God.
While Halloween is all about candy, costumes and spooky dark fun, it provides a great segway to a more celebratory and life affirming joy which is all souls day, celebrated on the 2nd of November.
This can be traced back to Mexico, and is known as the day of the dead or Dia De Los Muertos. It has even been recognized as UNESCO. It is a holiday that reunites the living and dead. Ofrendas or offerings are left at the graves to honour their departed family members along with other decorations like marigolds which are said to guide the spirits to the offerings. The offerings are believed to encourage visits from the land of the dead as the departed souls hear their prayers, smell their foods and join in the celebrations. It is unlike any holiday where mourning is exchanged for celebration as mourning the dead was seen as disrespectful by the Aztecs. There are even parades that line almost every street with people dressing up as skeletons and other spooky costumes. However this is not ‘Mexican Halloween’
If you’ve seen the animated Disney movie "Coco" you will remember the skull face paintings, the pierced papers at the beginning, the importance of the offerings and the putting up of their loved ones photos, the celebration of life and death and most importantly, what it means to each family.
This year, the day of the dead is no celebration as millions of people have fallen victim due to Covid-19 with over 90,000 in Mexico alone. Instead, it will be a period of mourning and even the cemeteries will be closed in an effort to urge people to stay at home. The government has even set up a competition for the best decorated home in order to encourage social distancing.
In other countries, people go for mass dedicated to their loved ones who have departed. It serves as a day to pray for their souls as they may not have attained heaven as of yet.
Also known as Remembrance Day or Veteran’s Day in other parts of the world, is another sombre day celebrated in honour of all those who have sacrificed themselves or died in wars and conflicts throughout the world. It is celebrated on the 11th day of the 11th month of the 11th hour which marks the end of WW1. A silence of two minutes is observed all over the world to mark this day.
Poppies are known to flourish in disturbed earth. Due to the destruction brought about by the Napoleonic Wars and then again in WW1, red poppies began growing amidst the dead bodies and blood. They were the only plants to do so. The poppy only became associated as a symbol of remembrance after the poem Flanders Fields by John McCrae who wrote it after the death of his friend in the war. There were several campaigns carried out by women to make it the official symbol of Remembrance Day throughout the world.
Today, we see people selling wreaths or individual poppies, the proceeds of which are donated to the soldiers’ funds. So please do buy and wear a poppy this November as it will greatly help their cause and serve as a memory for all the people who have died in war.