Grief. A complex emotion. All of us experience it at one point in our lives or other. Some early on, some later in life. It’s never easy. People leave a hole in our souls when they exit this life. However dramatic it sounds, it is how it is, and that’s okay.
The people we loved should hold a special place in our hearts, and we are entitled to remember, seek closure and grieve as we see fit.
Remembering loved ones who are no longer with us in the physical world is a global phenomenon, regardless of the language we speak or the religion we may or may not practice. Naturally we remember them more than one day a year but it’s fitting to have a day where an entire nation takes a step back to pay their respects to their beloved departed.
In Hungary, we have All Saints’ Day (1st November) and All Souls’ Day/Day of The Dead (2nd November). While these are different holidays, they have kind of merged in modern culture, and are only mentioned separately in Christian circles.
The Christian celebration of All Saints’ Day stems from a belief that there is a powerful spiritual bond between those in heaven (the ”Church triumphant”), and the living (the “Church militant”).
Celtic festival of Samhain
Some also believe that All Saints’ Day in the British Isles was meant to coincide with or replace the Celtic festival of Samhain, which is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter (the ‘darker half’ of the year).
All Souls’ Day is a day of prayer and remembrance of the souls of those who have died and are in purgatory (“Church penitent”). In Hungary, All Saints’ Day is a national holiday, however, All Souls’ Day is not. As such, we visit graves on November 1.
Many All Souls’ Day traditions revolve around the mentioned souls being in purgatory. I feel this is already a downer piece so I’ll just mention that lighting candles, which is something we do in the cemetery on this day, was meant to comfort souls languishing in the darkness of the nether world.
Here in Hungary, we take a more sombre approach to our day of remembrance. I feel, however, that it is important to celebrate the lives of our dead as they have sire done some amazing deeds. I guess this is one of the reasons why I love the notion of Halloween.
So… my advice would be the following: remember, pray, but don’t forget to celebrate the lives of those you loved. After all, I’m sure those lives were wonderful.