Fear All Souls' Day Not Hallowe'en (Grandma).

My maternal grandmother was born at the turn of the century (that was the last century, of course). She died at 68. But we always said she died prematurely (her siblings typically lived into their 90s).

Anyway she was Polish and Austrian. And she had a lot of unique practices, especially religious ones.

Every All Souls’ Eve (that’s the night following Hallowe’en for you non-catholics;)), she had a weird one. On a table she would place a fresh white linen, a prayer book, a rosary and a lit candle. It was meant for the spirits that would be freed of their bonds for just that night.

My mother told me as a girl she was terrified to go into the room (she said she imagined ghosts leafing through the prayer book). Naturally as fate would have it, the bathroom was off the kitchen-- right where the candle, etc. was!

Anyways, not surprisingly my mother and siblings were terrified of that night. And so was my grandmother. While she was in her empty nest state of life, my mother or her sister had to spend the night with her.

Funny story (kind of). One time my mother called my grandmother and said she was sorry she didn’t have a chance to spend the night with her that year. My grandmother was shocked. She said you mean the night had already passed!

Anyways, I just have to ask. Do any of you have grandparents or anyone else who performs this weird ritual and who is afraid of All Souls’ Eve? You know it’s not Hallowe’en when the spooks really roam the earth.


My understanding is that the “spooks” of All Soul’s are not bad spooks–just the non-saint souls, who still want to get to heaven. They’re not necessary really evil. People pray so they can get to Heaven. That’s what my very Catholic mother says, anyway.

So could it be that your mother misinterpreted your grandmother’s solemnity?

The idea of Halloween, on the other hand, as I understand it, is that all the past dead souls are roaming about–the good with the very bad–and you do things (like jack’o’lanterns, etc.) to keep the bad ones from getting at you.

I’m Methodist, no All Souls Day, just All Saints Day and there isn’t anything much culturally associated with it. Largely it’s just a sad day where we remember everyone affiliated with the congregation that has died in the past year. We generally intone their name, light a candle and ring a bell., afterwords we will say a prayer for them remembering their lives and being thankful that they have rest from their labors and for us. So, a little bit of overlap with candles and prayers, but those are pretty standard things. There’s no idea that souls are wandering around the earth. In our belief system, I’m not even sure that we would acknowledge that souls are ‘bound’ anywhere in order for them to be ‘loosed.’ Shoot, 1/3 of us are universalists anyway so why the heck would souls want to come back here and do weird things? Anyway, the long and short is that No, I don’t know of anyone that celebrates something like that.

My grandmother was extremely leery of mirrors affixed to doors. I get the practical fear, but it still seems like a Grandpa Simpson thing.

Wait; what’s the practical fear?

Possible wrong term; one might shove the door open (or shut) too hard and shatter the mirror. Maybe on someone’s hand as they’re coming from the other side.

Ahhhh, ok.

Well that, and mirrors are windows onto a transverse dimension. Move them around too much and the entire portal can become fatigued, eventually resulting in a tear in the nonspace between the two universes. Stuff can spill out of that hole…and in through it.

Well, damn, I’ve read enough Stephen King; you’d think I’d’ve remembered that. Your selfless reminder may well have saved the cosmos. For now. :wink:

Or some shit. :smiley: :smiley:

  • narf *

Here in Poland, All Souls’ Day is a HUGE deal, a national holiday where seemingly everybody, even the completely non-religious, make a tremendous show of visiting (and cleaning) the graves of their relatives, complete with flowers, candlelit lanterns, food, drink etc., much as many Mexicans do for Dia de Muertos, only here it generally seems more solemn, although many women get their hair and makeup done and dress up to the nines like they were going to a formal gala event instead of to a cemetery.

I don’t see it associated with hauntings or the supernatural too much, but I can’t speak for the country as a whole.

(I do know that many younger kids, both children and college students alike, are now celebrating Halloween, with horror movies, Trick or Treating, costume parties at clubs, etc. becoming a bigger deal here, and I understand that many traditional older people are decidedly not happy about it, likely seeing as evidence of yet more secular, commercial American influence on the youth of Poland)

My family background is essentially, irreligious and, “way back in the day” from Protestant, not Catholic origins: I’m none too well-informed about things Catholic and, before seeing this thread, I honestly thought that All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day were the day after Hallowe’en: and one day only, and one and the same thing. I now learn that they are Nov. 1st and Nov. 2nd respectively, and not one and the same thing !

Ignorance fought, kind-of: I logged on to a Catholic site which attempted to clarify the matter, but – likely I’m being not very bright – I still feel some puzzlement about the different respective roles of the two days. “Further study is indicated…”

On visits to Poland, I have got the impression that the people of that country seem noticeably, to “do” cemeteries impressively and with enthusiasm.

So *that’*s what happened!

Never did All Soul’s Day, but when our kids were young, we did Samheim. I remember one Halloween we were in the backyard with a fire, writing things down and burning them - right when new neighbors moved in behind us. Never like to miss an opportunity to give an odd first impression! :smiley: