Once Upon A Time,….The clock struck the twelfth hour, a boom of doom to wake the dead. Fairy godmother splutters, coughs and wheezes, her beating wings extracting yet more much needed air from her lungs drops to the floor, writhing in sheer agony. A metamorphous commences – some unknown and unbecoming force transforms fairy into Scary – Scary Godmother.
The coach in all its regal refinery returns to a pumpkin, it rolls to a standstill, blinks – one pointed eye and then the other.
Prince Charming keen not to be sidelined at his own party rips flesh from his face. The skin puckers and peels in large meaty clumps revealing putrid flesh and bone.
This is what all good Grimm fairy tales are made of – its Halloween it’s ScArY It’s Halloween be WaRy! You had better watch out….
Some nasty ghoul is about!
Well, here in Spain Halloween is a new concept. Keen to embrace any kind of party the Spanish have adopted it like a foreign cousin and welcomed it in with all the force of a national fiesta – except tomorrow they have a different fiesta that on the face of it is way more macabre….or is it??
Tomorrow is national ‘lets dance on your grave – around your grave – near your grave or just in the cemetery day. It is officially known as ‘All Saints Day’, All Hallows or The Feast of All Saints. It is a day to honour the dead and their souls. How do you do that? It’s a sensible question to ask. The answer is, until I came to Spain I didn’t know the answer….cyclical I know. Yes, I often went to the grave of a passed loved one to lay a few flowers – usually on their birthday or some other day of individual importance. However, in Spain they have a whole national day of holiday to honour the dead. No one works on this day – what a surprise! And, they take what is known as a ‘Puente’ meaning an additional day of holiday in order to recover.
This year All Saints falls on a Friday – a recovery day you think would be the Saturday as it’s a weekend and all, but NO! The Spanish – keen to keep their traditions insist on the ‘Puente’ in addition to the weekend and it will now be the Monday. ..yep another day off.
So, a day to honour the dead…an excuse for a day off – beer in hand, feet up, telly on. Not in this country!
Tomorrow, the Spanish will commence their journeys to the cemetery’s late in the night, as close to midnight as possible. Armed with cool boxes, plastic Tupperware containers, paella dishes, barbecues and tables they will dine next to their loved ones grave in an All Hallows al fresco fiesta of delight until the wee hours of the morning.
Civility in all its finery will include a tablecloth, candles, lanterns and chairs that do not match. For some reason I have never seen a Spaniard al fresco with matching chairs! It’s one of those feminine observations that I just don’t fail to miss..
Does it spoil the singular purpose of respectful remembrance? No it doesn’t.
Many a time I see tributes on Facebook to loved ones. Just recently, someone changed their profile picture to honour the passing of a much-missed child – taken before the parents were really ready to say goodbye. What parent is ever ready to say goodbye? What child, son, daughter, aunt or uncle is ready to say goodbye to that dear one who has now departed?
The truth is no one is ever ready. But, the one truth in life is death.
Loved ones need some kind of remembrance. What better way than to celebrate All Saints Day!!
A day of feasting – appreciating the loved ones that you have, rejoicing in the memories of the one that has passed while remaining close to their lasting physical tribute – the headstone.
Dedicated to my grandmother – Nanny I miss you very much and hold my memories of you deep in my heart. Tomorrow I shall be celebrating your life. XXX