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October really *was* Riverside Cemetery Month, and that was were my efforts went. I applied for a grant for the ongoing efforts there, and it was a busy month preparing the tours and planning for the events on Oct. 31. A new Wiki has been set up for the cemetery, and things are moving ahead with the Doc-A-Block project. Governor Ritter issued a proclamation declaring Oct. 31 as Riverside Cemetery Day, and about 600 people came out to tour the cemetery, including the local media. It was an exciting end to a busy month. For more information, or to see more about the proclamation or look at the Wiki, visit the Friends of Historic Riverside Cemetery.

Featured Article

All Soul's Day and Dia de los Muertos

Two traditions of honoring the dead are both celebrated on November first and second. Both celebrations have similar roots, and are celebrated in similar fashions, but, they also have a distinct flair.

All Soul's Day is a special day for intercession for the faithful departed souls. It was formally adopted by the Roman Catholic Church relatively recently, in the fourteenth century. The day is officially celebrated on November 2, however, the entire month of November in the Western Catholic tradition, is associated with prayers for the departed, especially for those souls in purgatory.

In the largely Catholic city of New Orleans, families celebrate both All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day by heading to the cemetery, and by doing maintenance on their family burial spots. Usually, the chores include painting the tombs with brilliant whitewashes, placing yellow chrysanthemums and red coxcombs on graves and placing wreaths of black glass beads, known as immortelles, on statues or ornaments. On these days, cemeteries throughout the city become lively places, lit with the warm glow from bunches of candles. It is a celebration of life. The tradition was that All Saints Day was a family event, when everyone gathered and socialized, contributed to the work, and enjoyed bringing refreshments and leaving keepsakes.

Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is celebrated on November 2nd. It is a happy occasion, a celebration of life, where the memory of ancestors and honored. Inherent to this celebration is the belief that at this time, the souls of the departed return to visit the living. The tradition's roots are from ancient Mexico but it is celebrated in many North, Central, and South American countries. The current celebration is a mixture of indigenous and Catholic traditions. Families gather at cemeteries for cleaning and decorating the grave sites. Like in New Orleans, there is socializing and sharing of food.

In the weeks leading up to Dia de los Muertos, families buy statues, candies, breads and other items to take to the cemetery. A sweet bread called "pan de muerto," is made, and usually decorated with skulls or bones, representing bones of the dead. Sugar skulls are also very popular.

Often, a small shrine-like area is set set up in the home, and it is laid with with offerings of sweets and the departed loved one's favorite foods and beverages. These offerings may later be given away or consumed by the living after their essence has been enjoyed by the dead.

These types of celebrations and remembrances have long been a part of most human societies, and remind us that death is part of life.

Around the Web

Technology continues to unravel mysteries at cemeteries.

A bit more about All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day traditions in Louisiana.

In Iowa, remains from a long forgotten cemetery have stalled a condo development.

In London, the crisis of cemetery space and centuries of tradition have lead to sharing burial plots with strangers.

Advocates for those who died at a Nevada asylum have finally achieved a historic cemetery designation for the long-ignored burial grounds.

Obituaries around the company are now going to be linked through Legacy.com.

Obituaries around the company are now going to be linked through Legacy.com.

A California cemetery boosts an especially rich collection of symbols. Doug Keister, author of the wonderful "Stories in Stone," is working on a new cemetery book, and has noted this unique cemetery.

Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis hosted a Family Fun Day to bring people to the historic cemetery.

As November brings Veterans Day, here's a story about a memorial for an unknown Civil War soldier honored in Tennessee.

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