Spirit Traditions

Looking back, this year feels like it’s lasted for eons.  But from a different perspective, it also seems to have flown by.  Do you know what I mean?  Does it seem possible that the little ones, at least in some areas, will be trick-or-treating next weekend?  I find it hard to believe.

There have been times that I haven’t celebrated the autumn and winter holidays.  For years, I was hung up on the over-commercialization and materialism of it all, and therefore, I had no desire to take part.  But one of the things covid has taught me is that time with friends and family should not be taken for granted.  Traditions should be celebrated and relationships should be cherished.  

According to Frank Sonnenberg, an award-winning author who was recently named one of America’s Top 100 Thought Leaders, Traditions represent a critical piece of our culture. They help form the structure and foundation of our families and our society. They remind us that we are part of a history that defines our past, shapes who we are today and who we are likely to become.  He goes on to say that traditions reinforce values such as selflessness and responsibility, provide a sense of belonging, and give us an opportunity for reflection while making memories with loved ones.

The American Halloween tradition originated with our Celtic ancestors about 2000 years ago.  Their new year began on November 1, and they believed the ghosts of the dead returned to earth the night before.  To commemorate, the Celts built sacred bonfires, wore costumes, and engaged in fortune-telling.  Over the centuries, the Roman Empire and the Catholic Church both played roles in changing some of the meaning and customs of the celebration.  In the US, due in part to religious beliefs, Halloween did not become popular nationally until late in the 19th century, when millions of Irish migrated to this country to flee the potato famine.

Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is an annual holiday celebrated on November 1 & 2 by those of Mexican heritage.  (It is, however, gaining popularity in this country, as I’ve taken part in its celebration in 3 states over the years.)  I’ve read there is no crossover between Dia de los Muertos and Halloween, but there are many similarities.  In the Mexican holiday, it is believed that spirits of the dead are allowed to return to their homes for 24 hours, and it is celebrated with parades, special foods, costumes, and lovingly designed altars filled with skulls, flowers, and pictures of the deceased.  According to the National Hispanic Cultural Center, Dia de los Muertos is a day set aside for families and communities to honor ancestors and loved ones, while celebrating the cycle of life.  

Ah, yes, the cycle of life.  Like every living thing on Earth, we have a life cycle.  Each stage in the human life cycle presents specific challenges for experiencing, learning, and loving, in preparation for the next stage.  This ties in with Sonnenberg’s statement, (Traditions) remind us that we are part of a history that defines our past, shapes who we are today and who we are likely to become.  Traditions are an important part of our life cycles.

Don’t let covid take away your traditions.  Make modifications as necessary for safety, ignore the commercialization as best you can, and make happy memories with family and friends.  The visiting spirits of your deceased loved ones will appreciate it.

Blessings for Halloween & Dia de los Muertos,

Lisa

39 thoughts on “Spirit Traditions

  1. Beautiful Post Lisa and your pictures beautifully matched your well chosen words and message. It is so important. I’m trying to figure out how to give meaning to the holidays this year as we approach the holidays while following guidelines and so much depends on the weather. be well. ❤️ Cindy

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Indeed, the Celtic year begins on 1st November. It is also seen as the beginning of winter. I’m just reading about it as I write! “It is a time for communication with the Ancestors, a time for divination, omens, portents and seeking the mysteries…..a time to drift, dream and vision; a time for inner journeys and connecting to the wisdom inside yourself”. (From “The Earths Cycle of Celebration” by Glennie Kindred – http://www.glenniekindred.co.uk).

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  3. Informative post on the origins of Halloween, Lisa. The topic is a big one and you did a good job of condensing it for us here. This year with Covid will bring about many new complications in celebrating Halloween, and a good chance for people to create new traditions. I think new traditions are as important as old traditions.

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  4. yes many Asian cultures pay homage to their ancestors … without them we wouldn’t be here! And it’s important to remember the cycle of life so we take full advantage of every precious moment, especially of our traditions 🙂

    I wont engage in the commercial side but will op shop for gifts. Halloween and Spirit days are not really celebrated here in oz, some kids have picked up the halloween stuff but not enough know about it to do trick or treating. But we have other traditions like a day at the beach or a bbq 🙂

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  5. Another very thought provoking and interesting post! I always used to think that the commercialism surrounding Halloween came from the States – sorry! When my sons were small we used to make more of this festival, carving pumpkin lanterns etc. I love the way the Day of the Dead is celebrated in Mexico.

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  6. Very informative blog! I have always loved history but did not know that the Halloween Traditions in America originated from the Celtics! However, being raised as a Catholic, I became familiar with “Dia de los Muertos” around 15 years ago when the Hispanic Catholic Church was built close to my house. I became involved with our Hispanic community during my years with the Red Cross and would frequently attend Sunday services at this church. One year, there was a parade during this time of the year that took place on the main road near my home on a Saturday morning that caught the attention of all of my neighbors. The participants were all Hispanic and they were all dressed in very colorful attire. Many of them were carrying large crucifixes, skulls, and other ornaments while others were singing and/or playing musical instruments. There were floats with “grave markers”, candles, alters, lights, ornaments, etc… My neighbors who were ALL Protestant were very curious about the celebration so I “proudly” gave them a history lesson! It was a GREAT experience for me to share this with people who are NOT familiar with other cultures! It reduces the “fear” of the unknown. My neighbors saw it as a beautiful celebration and are now able to enjoy the annual event each year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s awesome, mamaceil! What a joy for you to be the messenger for your neighbors! And, yes, fear of the unknown causes so many problems for us all. Good job! (And, by the way, I’m surprised that I was able to share a little history that you weren’t already aware of!😆) I so appreciate your comment! 🌞

      Like

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