A Lesson from the Day of the Dead

Time comes to a halt on All Souls Day (Todos Santos), November 2, a day of ancient ritual. I learned that lesson when I spent the day with a Mexican family in Puebla, Mexico. To miss this celebration of death was simply unheard of. Our place was the cemetery, where the grandparents lay under thick…

La Toussaint:* The Saints and Souls Who Preserve Us

A novel about an arrogant food critic could only happen in France. Bien sûr! Some time ago, I set myself the challenging and Sisyphean task of reading Muriel Barbery’s first novel, Une gourmandise, in French.  (Barbery’s reputation rests on her extremely philosophical second novel — The Elegance of the Hedgehog [what a title!], which took…

Halloween: Art

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! For more on the Day of the Dead in Mexico, see my previous post: Día de los Muertos (Todos Santos)/ Day of the Dead Food-Laden Altars .

Saints, Souls, and Haints: More Soul Cakes

About All Souls’ Day (November 2), Sir James George Frazer wrote detailed notes in The Golden Bough: a Study in Magic and Religion, a classic in anthropology. Notice the mention of marigolds, also common in Mexico. In Lechrain, a district of Southern Bavaria which All Souls in existence along the valley of the Lech from…

Saints, Souls, and Haints: Soul Cakes

Trick-or-treating may well have originated in the old custom of “souling,” as people went from house to house, begging ( “mumming”) for “soul cakes,” actually prayers — in sweet form.  Sir James George Frazer wrote about this practice in The Golden Bough: a Study in Magic and Religion, a classic in anthropology, first published in…