Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Not Hallowe'en, but Toussaint

Hallowe'en is a favourite holiday of ours. In Toronto we delight in creating costumes, carving pumpkins and decorating the house. The excitement of trick or treating is as much for admiring the efforts of our neighbours and saying hello, as it is for the junk food haul. As Hallowe'en is not celebrated here in Guadeloupe we celebrated a few of our cherished traditions on our own. The kids threw together some costumes and we did some impromptu trick or treating around our home. Instead of our usual post-treat pig-out dance party, the kids jumped in the pool for a night swim, then we finished off the night with our favourite Hallowe'en stories.

This time of year is devoted to Toussaint, the All Saints celebration. Families spend the week prior to November sprucing up their family cemetery plots (which are above ground). Beginning the evening of Nov 1 the cemeteries are open and welcoming. Snacks and flowers are sold at the entry way.The dark night is lit up with candles on all the graves. Family and friends gather around their plots with flowers and rum to pray, give thanks, and reminisce about the good old days. There was such a powerful sense of community and belonging among the candles and we truly appreciated the opportunity to experience this unique Guadeloupe tradition.

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