Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Halloween Jerez Style

Hello All,

Perhaps the sign should have told us something! Last year, Halloween was a non-event. 2 teenagers came to our door, neither of them dressed up, and begged for candy. That was the extent of the celebration. This year, the above handwritten signs were posted around our neighborhood about a week ago. Then, just a day or so before, a small hand drawn pumpkin leaflet was put into our mailbox. It reminded me of political mail, but this campaign was quite well done.

So last night, Lela and I decided that we would get a small bag of suckers for the kids. I felt that we at least needed two bags. We had gone out to Carrefour Sur (not the infamous Carrefour Norte where I was interrogated last week by the Security detail...see a few posts down for more info) and came back to find, a decent size band of kids roaming through our neighborhood. I surmised that we would have just enough. By the time they reached our house, the band had grown to about 60 kids armed with some sort of very loud firecrackers! At this point, I was pretty sure we would not have enough suckers, so we quietly went upstairs and retired for the night! We'll be ready next year for all contingencies!

The party just kept going on last night, mainly due to the fact that today is All Saints Day here in Spain. Everyone is off from school and work today, but tomorrow is also an important day on the calendar known as "The Feast Of All Souls." Obviously, those of us in America have little understanding of what these days signify, so I thought I would do a little research.

Much of what follows will be from Catholic source material found on the internet. The Catholic Encyclopedia on All Saints Day: "It is instituted to honour all the saints, known and unknown, and, according to Urban IV, to supply any deficiencies in the faithful's celebration of saints' feasts during the year." In other words, today is a day where all the saints that did not get celebrated, or did not get celebrated enough, get their fair share. Originally, this was meant to be a celebration of the martyrs, who were the only ones granted sainthood. However, it was later changed. The site further explains, "The change in the name of the event from Feast of All Holy Martyrs to Feast of All Saints probably became about because there was a change in the customs regarding who was listed as a "Saint." In the early years of the Church, only martyrs were given that title, but after the Roman persecutions ended the title was given to others who had led meritorious lives and who were credited with miraculous intercession."

This day is held in the same regard as Labor Day or Memorial Day is for Americans. It is just another day off for most Spaniards, though some might actually make it to Mass. Tomorrow, there is not a national holiday observance, but "The Feast Of All Souls" will be talked about. Yet a third Catholic site, and we get this information: "While the Feast of All Saints is a day to remember the glories of Heaven and those there, the Feast of All Souls on November 2 reminds us of our obligations to live holy lives and that there will be purification of the souls of those destined for Heaven - in this life or in purgatory."

Again, these are Catholic sources and my posting them here is by no means an endorsement or a statement to the veracity of the claims. I found it interesting though, just how deep the beliefs of this country are, and yet, how incredibly divorced they are from them in their daily lives. There is nothing wrong with celebrating martyrs or thinking upon the lives that we are to lead upon this Earth. However, to honor these days without honoring the faith of the one's who have given their lives for the name of Christ and to think upon our duties upon this earth, apart from the one who calls us to that duty and empowers us to perform, is to miss the proverbial forest for the trees. Those who died for the call of the faith would be insulted if we celebrated their heroism and did not embrace their Savior. And if we have a day where we think about the lives that are meant to be the extension of the Savior's ministry to a dying world around us, and then not live that way, what sort of insult is that to the name of Christ?

Alright, I'll get off my soapbox I need to go and help finish those few lolipops that we have left!

Blessings To The Friends Of Spain,
Frank Sanchez

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