It's been a while since I did one of the culturally informative Trini Tuesday posts but it seemed a good time.
The year we spent in Trinidad exposed us to a whole new set of holidays that I have written about in many other posts long ago. Other holidays we were accustomed to observing were not part of the calendar. The end of October/beginning of November was a slight twist. There were no Halloween parties where everyone dressed up and no trick or treating with kids all in costumes. We knew that would be the case. What we didn't realize was what a big deal All Saint's Day was.
People may not dress up for Halloween but this time of year is the time for graves to be dressed up. I snagged the above picture from Flickr to give an idea what the tombstones in Trinidad look like. I'm not sure what sort of stone or materials are used but they are generally white like that. The harsh tropical sun and the driving tropical rains that beat down in that part of the world have a way of degrading things quickly. House paint fades, curtains fade and the fabric weakens, graves and their markings are no exception.
As we moved around our town during the last days of October and first days of November we noticed crowds of people in the local cemeteries whitewashing the tombstones before painting in the information contained on them. The cemeteries are not the huge expanses of land maintained by perpetual care arrangements so the families come to weed out the overgrowth, tidy up the markers, and offer prayers and remembrances. Folks had picnic lunches, flowers and candles all over the place. Some people were quite serious and somber about the proceedings but most of them seemed to have a rather festive mood. After all, this is Trinidad, where the populace boasts about having more public holidays on the calendar than any other nation (I haven't researched to verify that claim. I only know I heard it more times than I can recall.) All dey would take any chance tuh fete!
Even though All Saint's Day is a Catholic tradition it is not unusual to see Protestants, Hindus and Muslims out tidying up the graves of their departed family members too. Again, we were in Trinidad where the various religious traditions bump up against each other and comingle celebrations. The other groups might not be partaking in the religious aspects of the day but if it is chance to fete, or have some food, or meet a family obligation it's not necessarily limited to one segment of the population.
We didn't go to cleanup any graves but we had our own minor observation of the season. After I came home from the market Diana pulled a bag over her head. I took it back long enough to rip out an eye hole. She enjoyed running around our house and jumping out to say "BOO!"