[Christine O’Keeffe’s Halloween Customs ]
Halloween - History - Monster List - Recipes - Games - Rings - E-Cards

La Toussaint et Le Jour des Morts: All Saint’s Day & All Soul’s Day
(pron. law TOO-sawn ay luh JOOR day MORE) These are legal and church holidays in France. The week before All Soul’s Day women in mourning visit les cimetières: the cemeteries to clean the family graves and decorate them with artificial flowers and wreaths of immortelles: immortals. Family reunions honor the dead. Children beg for money to buy cakes at Madonna shrines. Les Cloches de Minuit: The Midnight Bells ring for La Toussaint and churches are decorated with colorful flowers, candles and banners.

Le Miserére: Have mercy: Black Vespers
(pron. luh mee-seh-RAIR-ray) On the Eve of Le Jour des Morts the church is draped in black. Funeral songs and prayers are said. People retire to the cemetery to pray by family graves or to crypts [place of bones, remains of many dead in one tomb]. Rows of skulls at the sides of these entrances can be touched. People leave the cemetery and go to a house or inn gathering for the night singing or talking on the road to warn the dead who are hastening home. A toast is drunk to the memory of the departed. Men weave baskets at the fireplace and women knit or spin by the light of the fire and one candle. Children play with apples and nuts. Each person tells a story of one who has died. The dead are thought to take up existence where they left off, working at the same trades, and wearing the same clothes they wore in life. They never trespass daylight, but it is dangerous to meet them at night, because they punish any slight to their memory. L’Ankou will come to get a supply of shavings if the coffins are not lined with them to make a softer resting-place for the dead. At midnight the supper for the souls is set out: black grain, milk, smoked bacon, pancakes, and cider. People retire with both eyes shut. Death-singers make the rounds, chanting under the windows. Tears disturb the comfort of the dead, and sometimes they appear to tell those in sorrow that their shrouds are always wet from the tears shed on their graves. Wakened by the dirge the people rise and pray for the souls of the departed. (26)

Next Page - Last Page - Table of Contents - Works Cited

[French Ministry of Education Site: Centre national de documentation pédagogique]Christine O’Keeffe’s Halloween Home Page
cokeeffe at geocities.com
© Copyright 1998. Christine O’Keeffe, Ver. 3.0. Friday, January 30, 2004