American in Spain

All Saints Day

November 1, 2006

Today is a national holiday in Spain. It's All Saints Day. I can't really figure out what you're supposed to do on All Saint's Day. I was expecting the local church to be holding mass, but it's closed. All the other days, in the Catholic calendar, are given individual saints to honor on that particular day. But "honor all of them" is kind of hard to do. It's like rather than celebrating a birthday of a friend, you decided to have a "Let's celebrate the fact that we're all alive" party. It just doesn't work.

In Spain, what they do is cheat. They use the national holiday on November 1 to celebrate the more celebratable holiday of Defuncts' Day, or All Souls Day, which really falls on November 2. It's basically a "everybody go to the cemetery and grieve for your dead loved ones" day. Knowing the Spanish, I bet it's even more profitable for the florists than February 14th. Every year, Marga's grandfather takes a 10-hour bus ride to his town in the south of Spain, Higuera de la Serena (where we go in August), to visit the grave of his wife. As far as I can tell, there are no beliefs of ghosts or actual communication with the dead. It's just a national day of grieving.

Anyway, all the shops are closed and Marga's got the day off work. That's how it affects me.

Oh, and it just happens to fall on a Cross Quarter Day, the day perfectly between a solstice and an equinox. Fancy that.

No, the Spanish don't celebrate Halloween, you filthy capitalist pagans!