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This autumn, Hospice in the Weald will set up different displays in the Quiet Room at Pembury to mark the many festivals taking place during the season. Visitors will have the chance to light a candle, tie a ribbon, or leave a prayer or message as their personal way of remembrance.
In ancient times, the end of October and beginning of November marked the end of the productive year, and the beginning of the dark period that is winter. A celebration marked the time and helped prepare people for the long, dark months ahead. A passing from a time of light to a time of darkness but with the holding of light within the darkness and the hope of spring to come.
As time passed, different cultures absorbed the festival and adapted it to their own ends. As a result of this adaption, we see people acknowledge the period in very different ways, and for very different reasons. There are now multiple festivals taking place at this time, all of which carry their own traditions and focuses.
Allhallowtide is the Western Christian period including the three days or ‘triduum’ of All Saints Eve (Halloween), All Saints Day (All Hallows) and All Souls Day. The period begins on 31st October and ends on 2nd November, and it’s seen as a time to remember the dead, including martyrs, saints, and all faithful departed Christians.
These three days and the turning of the season are often associated with life, death, light, darkness and honouring the memory of those who have died. It can be a rich time for acknowledging death and talking about it. Whilst some aspects may be solemn, there are also opportunities for celebrating life and the lives of loved ones who have gone before.
While it doesn’t feature in the three-day Allhallowtide, Remembrance Sunday on the second Sunday in November is another worldwide day set aside to honour all those who have died in war.
Those who celebrate Halloween may go trick or treating and wear masks or disguises. Families in Mexico have traditionally gathered for ‘Dia de los Muertos’ (Day of the Dead) on 1st-2nd November to celebrate and commune with their ancestors – a joyful holiday with separate origins and unique traditions.
Some people in Britain might not know where the All Hallows Eve (Halloween) celebrations come from although they have Celtic, pre-Christian roots, but the event has taken on entirely different meanings as it has travelled the world. In Japan, it is celebrated as a big street party with extravagant costumes and no reference to trick or treating, or even the dead.
While some of the key dates have been touched upon already, there is a lot to get into when it comes to fully understanding the background and reasons for the many festivals at this time of the year. The below list outlines the upcoming autumn events the Hospice will be recognising:
31st October: 1) All Hallows Eve (Halloween) – the night before All Hallows or ‘All Saints Day’ 2) Samhain – Wiccan / Pagan
1st November: All Saints Day or (All Hallows Day) – Christian (Western Churches)
2nd November: All Souls Day – Christian
1st-2nd November: Dia de los Muertas (Day of the Dead) – Mexico roots
12th November: 1) Remembrance Sunday 2) Diwali Festival of Light
12-19th November: Interfaith Week
People choose to acknowledge this time of year in different ways, but it commonly marks a time of renewal. The harvest is in, and the fields will sit fallow for the dark winter months while we prepare for the coming spring and a new year. At the Hospice, we want to be there for our community who wish to remember and reflect.
Members of the Chaplaincy Team will be nearby our Quiet Room to offer support during the Allhallowtide period, with a 1pm Gathering each day from 31st October-2nd November, focusing on honouring those who have died and cherishing their memory.
For Remembrance Sunday there will be a poppy themed focus in the Quiet Room on 7th November, and a Diwali Festival of Light focus table. For Interfaith Week from 12th November, a selection of world religions will be focused on in the daily 1pm Gathering, again in the Quiet Room.
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