With Autumn having descended upon us like the early morning mists that we come to expect at this time of year, the darker evenings bring with them times of celebration, and the end of October sees the arrival of Halloween.
As a child I was especially interested in this pagan celebration. My Nan was always a key target for my yearly scare. Living in a mobile home next to the farmhouse enabled me to walk around its perimeter in the dark, desperately trying to avoid tripping over any tangled foliage, tapping at windows and shining a torch under my chin through the glass. Nan took my attempts at becoming a wailing banshee or white sheet-garbed spook, in great humour, pretending to be scared witless. It was enjoyable and harmless entertainment for us both.
I know that many religious folk tend to steer clear of Halloween and instead commemorate All Souls Day, which follows close behind on November 2 each year, and is also the last day of Allhallowtide.
All Souls’ Day, also known as the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed and the Day of the Dead, is a day of prayer and remembrance for the souls of those who have died. Throughout the world, it is traditional to visit a relative’s grave at this time.
I had the opportunity to attend the All Souls Service at our local church. It was very moving, particularly at the end of the service, as all members of the village who had passed away either recently or a long time ago, had their names read out and a candle lit in their memory. The village had a strong legacy of very long-standing residents. As I listened to the roll call of their names, I found it very emotional, as I had known a lot of them from my childhood.
The changing of seasons brings further celebration in the form of Guy Fawkes Night, with the chance to get together with friends and family to enjoy a safe and fun-filled evening.
In all events it is the light, be it a candle, a firework or a torch, which illuminates the darkness.