Rants and Raves

Opinion, commentary, reviews of books, movies, cultural trends, and raising kids in this day and age.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

All Hallows Eve

Halloween, and the weather just did an Oklahoma on us and turned cold and windy after a lovely weekend. Well our boy is going to another Halloween party tonight so we'll just have to dress warmly.

My wife has come to enjoy American-style Halloween quite a lot. In Poland, and the rest of Europe, it is celebrated quite differently. The eve of All Saints Day, called the Day of the Dead, is a time when families in Poland go to their family graves, sweep them, clean them up and put lots of candles on them. At night, which is usually crisp and cold, the cemeteries are quite beautiful, glowing with the light of thousands of candles.

A Polish academic who lived in America once told me that American Halloween just shows that Americans turn everything into a party - even death.

A friend remarked, "So why not? It's going to happen anyway whatever you do, so why not party?"

Sadly, the custom of Trick or Treating appears to be dying out. Though there has never been a single authenticated case of poisoned treats, or apples with razor blades, or any of the other Halloween urban legends, nonetheless people have become paranoid to the point that they'd rather take the kids to a supervised party.

Observinging something like the European tradition would also be nice, but who in America keeps family gravesites where generations of relatives are buried? Because my father and grandmother had an interest in geneology I was able to look at quite extensive family history charts, and I noticed something that astonishes Europeans. For over three hundred years, almost nobody in my ancestral line was buried in the same place he was born and seldom are two generations born in the same place. I imagine that's probably quite typical of Americans.


  • At 4:05 PM, Blogger Gilmoure said…

    My family in New Mexico's been buried at graveyards within a 10 mile radius, going back to the late 1800's.

    I'm afraid I'm going to break the trend as I want to be buried near our house, standing upwards, with a tree planted overhead. If possible, I'd like to have one of the original one piece Macs, some Roman coins and a bronze sword buried with me. Like to leave something for the archaeologists. It's likely not allowed to have a corpse buried on private property but then I'll just be cremated and be done with it. That'll be cool. And if the tree growing out of me brings someone some joy, all the better!

  • At 5:05 PM, Blogger Steve Browne said…

    Reminds me of the Scotsman who asked his best friend to sprinkle his bottle of 20-year-old scotch whiskey over his grave. "Aye Angus, I'll do it, you're me best friend. But do ye mind if I filter it through ma kidneys first?"

  • At 9:58 PM, Blogger Vanishing American said…

    There are five generations of my paternal family buried in a little family cemetery in south central Texas. Our family genealogy is well researched and from the 1600s to the 1800s when our ancestors came to Texas, almost every generation was born in a different Southern state: Virginia, NC, Georgia, SC, Arkansas, Texas. People were very restless it seemed and there was always the promise of more room, land, and new horizons. Still the family is very strongly rooted in Texas now, and there were lots of families with similar histories.


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