Halloween, something my nephews in the US are dressing up for as we speak, is not celebrated here in Macedonia. Tomorrow, however, is observed and is known as the "Day of the Dead" (aka. "All Soul's Day"). On this day families will go to the grave sites of their departed loved ones, clean the headstone, clear away debris, light candles for prayer, place flowers and have a meal. It's believed that the person's spirit is able to come and partake with them.
It's interesting to me the many traditions that are associated with the death of a loved one. I read on Wikipedia that in Orthodox tradition it's believed that from the moment of death that the person can visit the living for 40 days. Then on that 40th day the family again goes to the grave site and serves the same traditional meal items that were served graveside the day of the funeral (bread, wine/drink of some sort, something sweet, etc.). Again, it's believed the loved one's spirit partakes with them one last time before heading away from the living and into the afterlife.
As I ponder these traditions my thoughts go to those who are still in or just ending that 40-day period... I imagine this time is especially difficult for them, and I wonder if the traditions are as well, like tomorrow and the"Day of the Dead." I lost my own father several years ago and can keenly identify with the heart-ache of losing someone you love. Yet, there is a Hope that comforts us in our loss far more than anything else ever could. The hope of eternal life found in the One who has triumphed over death and its sting. As I consider this "holiday" and what meaning it may hold for so many, my heart is tugged to pray for them. Will you join me?