Today, the 2nd November is All Souls' Day. It's also my husband's birthday and he has been part of that group for 12 days short of five years. For years I wrote about All Souls followed by a normally humorous tagline which read that it was also my husband's birthday adding what might or might not be for dinner!All Souls' is a Catholic Day of Remembrance for friends and loved ones who have passed away. On this day, during Requiem Masses, the Office of the Dead is recited.
Today and this evening many families will go to their family plots and graves, gather around, and even take picnic baskets to celebrate those who have gone before them. Tonight every grave will be lit up by candles so that the cemetery/graveyard will just for one night of the year, be bathed in candlelight. I would like to think that visitors would also light a candle on graves of the forgotten ones. In many instances, those graves are not forgotten. It's just that for various reasons not everyone can visit. My father lies over 4,000 miles away and there's no way I could fly to be at his side tonight. But I can and will light candles for both he and Mummy, and Richard.
I like the customs and traditions of some European countries where candles are burning continuously (24/7) as one did on my Austrian grandmother's grave. Sadly there is no one left there to look after it but I do know that the graveyard keepers when they know there is no family left, do keep the candles lit. In some of those countries, there is a photograph of the deceased together with an eternal flame.
The origins of this day have been attributed to various religious orders. Some say the Cluny Order (the nuns still teach here in Trinidad), others the Benedictine monks who are also very much here, living in the monastery on Mount St Benedict, a major landmark in this country.
The Benedictine Monastery, Mt St Benedict, Trinidad
Whoever it was, it is a wonderful custom which to this day, is celebrated, not only here but in many Catholic countries.
May God bless all those souls that have gone before us and as I hold those in my family who have departed in my heart, I will raise a glass to them and an extra one to Richard who would have been eighty today, and give thanks for the memories. Happy Birthday Richard as you watch over me and the family from your place in heaven. x