The Day of the Dead

In America and the U.K. we are used to celebrating Halloween on the 31st October. All Hallows Eve has become less of a religious event and more of a commercial enterprise with costumed kids promising a trick if you don’t provide them with a treat and hollowed-out, candle-lit pumpkins placed on doorsteps.

In Spain and Portugal, the 1st of November is known as the Day of the Dead. No, not a resurrection of zombies, but more of a day to remember relatives who have passed away. It is also known as All Saint’s Day, a more religious and positive term.

Families dressed in black visit the local cemeteries to leave large candles burning or lay bunches of fresh cut chrysanthemum flowers on the graves of their loved ones. On that day, I see the flowers being sold at roadside stalls and whenever I pass a cemetery, it is filled with people and fragrant flowers. They certainly try to remember their dead, even if it is just for one day each year. And the care taken of the graves throughout the year is always quite noticeable. Very different from the UK, where graves are often vandalised or destroyed and seldom ever visited.

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