parade of life

Paula Jardine

 

Honouring Old Traditions / Creating New Ones

A Night for All Souls at Mountain View Cemetery is an artist led, accessible, inter-generational, culturally diverse, non-denominational sacred event. It is an opportunity for people to share their own customs and experiences, and reinforces our relationship to natural cycles. It
takes place on the Saturday before Hallowe’en, in order to coincide with a time of year that for many cultures is traditional for honouring the dead, but without being too specific to one individual culture.

Begun in 2005, it grew out of years of collaborating with Marina Szijarto, (masque of the red death, parade of lost souls) and our own personal need to honour our ancestors and remember our dead.

 

“On All Saint’s Day in the autumn the cemeteries are little cities of golden light, a candle flickering the night through beside each grave.”
Poland; Funeral Customs the World Over, Habenstein & Lamers, Bulfin, 1960

In many cultures around the world, the days at the end of October and beginning of November are considered an important time for honouring the dead in our lives, through ceremony and celebration, and the practical maintenance of the family gravesites. Customs include cleaning and decorating graves, feasts, flowers, lanterns, and candles.

In our modern, urban, and relatively transient culture, traditional "village" customs have been left behind, though not the human impulses that led to these traditions. As a non-denominational sacred event, All Souls offers an opportunity for people to share their own customs and experiences, and create their own traditions.

Since 2005, Mountain View Cemetery has been inviting the public to come and remember their dead, in an atmosphere of contemplative beauty, whether buried at Mountain View Cemetery or not.

We provide small box lanterns for creating personal memorials, and shrines where people can leave their memorials, write messages, light candles, and speak the names of the dead.

The candles at the shrines are kept lit until the morning of November 2nd, when we gather up the messages for the final ceremony of burning them, after reading the names out loud.

All Souls at Mountain View Cemetery has been part of the revival of the role of this urban cemetery in the life of an increasingly secular and multi-cultural community. It has become an annual tradition for many, in particular young families who embrace the event as an opportunity for storytelling about family members who have passed, and to introduce the subject of mortality to their children.

To see a gallery of photos from past years and for event dates and times visit our website www.nightforallsouls.com