Wednesday, October 31, 2007

All Saints' Day

Mass tomorrow...

All Saints' Day by William Adolphe Bouguereau (1859)

From a Halloween History (although I don't think "syncretism" is the right word to use):

The Catholic celebration of All Saints' Day was officially inaugurated in 609 A.D., although the Christian influence on Halloween actually begins in 601 A.D., when Pope Gregory I instructed his missionaries that, rather than obliterate native peoples' customs and beliefs, they should try to use them; hence, Catholic holy days were set at the times of native holy days, celebrations and festivals. As Christian missionaries moved into Ireland, they practiced Gregory's doctrine of "syncretism" and replaced the Celts' Samhain with All Saints' Day (Pope Gregory III moved the observation to November 1 in the eight century). In 998 A.D. St. Odilo, Bishop of Cluny, instituted a day of prayer and special masses for the souls of the dead. This day became All Souls' Day, and was set for November 2nd. In many areas All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day celebrations merged, as in Mexico, where October 31 to November 2 became known simply as "Days of the Dead".


crystal said...

Nice painting. Out here, the Day of the Dead is more popular, I think ... and you get to eat those little sugar skulls :-)

Jeff said...

Hey Crystal,

I'm sure you had that image on your blog once. Not sure when. I think it was titled "Where Are You Now?", or something like that, if I'm not mistaken.

Out here, Day of the Dead is more popular, I think ... and you get to eat those little sugar skulls :-)

Lots more bright colors besides black and orange too. :-) Is it really more popular out there? Not surprising I guess, considering that California was once part of Mexico, and by every indication, appears to be heading back in that direction...

Mike McG... said...

Saludos a todos de Guanajuato, Mexico. I am writing from an internet cafe, just above the very busy flower market where people are preparing their visits to the cemeteries. Not far away is another market with scores of booths selling sweets with Dia de los Muertos themes.

In another hour I´ll be attending mass at the ¨Templo de la Compañia,¨ a formerly Jesuit parish now staffed by Oratorians. After mass, a procession to another church.

The much more widely observed fiesta will be tomorrow, el Dia de los Muertos. For a variety of reasons, some legit and some less so, the contempt for Catholicism is strong here, at least among the professionals under whom I am studying Spanish. But no one seems sufficiently disenchanted with Catholicism to decline to celebrate with the dead in ¨los panteones.¨

Reminds me of one philosopher (Santa Ana comes to mind)who said, ¨There is no God, and Mary is his Mother.¨

Jeff said...

Hey Mike,

Great to hear from you. I hope the total immersion program is going well. Can't wait to hear all the details when you get back. Enjoy the fiestas.

cowboyangel said...


Thanks for the info on All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day. I didn't really know the history.

I wonder how many people linked to the Wikipedia entry for DAY OF THE DEAD over the lat few days. I see you and I both did.

Nice Bouguereau painting.


Don't eat too many of those skulls or you'll get a stomach ache. And start seeing lots of skulls.

Mike McG,

Nice description of the festivities in Mexico.

Jeff said...

Thanks, William.

By the way, I was late seeing your post on the Naomi Klein thread about No Logo and about the writings of S. Marcos. Thanks for the tips. I will certainly check them out.