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Passing On [Traditions]

“Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging: to confirm a transaction, the one took off a sandal and gave it to the other; this was the manner of attesting in Israel…” – Ruth 4:7

November is a month caught betwixt and between, a time of transition from Fall to Winter. In November, the sun’s rays wane more intensely in this hemisphere, winds shift and temperatures drop. And so do the leaves. We are left with the memory of how bright green things were, but before they fall, the deciduous type treat us to a brilliant showcase of polychromatic splendor.

I absolutely love Fall. Also, just for the record, I’m a big fan of Pumpkin Spice Latte (3 pumps, not the usual 4) and am not ashamed. When I was a kiddo, riding home from school on the bus, I would watch in awe as a magnificent oak tree would progress through the month of October into November. Every day the hue of its leaves would brighten until they arrived at a brilliant fiery orange-red. And then, after all the waiting, on any given November Monday following a blustery weekend, I would always find that its color was extinguished, and would have to wait until the next year to behold its true colors sans chlorophyll. I didn’t know it then riding the school bus, but throughout time and cultures we have marked our planet’s exhale before its period of winter dormancy with all sorts of traditions.

When I lived in Mexico City I began to participate in Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festivities (which is actually two days). Though there weren’t many deciduous trees in that part of Mexico, colors abounded, from the lustrous pink of the papel picado (cut-out tissue paper) to the scintillating orange cempasúchil flowers (marigolds) that adorned the meticulously curated ofrendas (altars). Day of the Dead, a pre-Hispanic custom, is a festive time that feeds on our curiosity of the afterlife; our respect for the deceased; and is filled with life and humor. Coinciding with the Catholic triduum of Allhallowtide, All Hallows’ Eve (Oct 31), All Saints’ Day (Nov 1), and All Souls’ Day (Nov 2), it is a time to honor our dearly departed.

Eden Church will be doing just that with a special All Saints / Día de los Muertos service on Sunday, Nov 4. Come to remember those who have passed on and fellowship with those who are passing on. Bring a photo of a departed loved one(s) to place on the altar and a “family favorite” dish to share at the potluck after service. Learn about the four elements of the Compañeras/os Ministry’s very own ofrenda, and try a little pan de muerto (bread of the dead).

Recall the quote from Ruth that began this blog post? It highlights that sometimes traditions and customs are wildly different from one town or one time to the next, but they’re all full of meaning. So, come to learn about this Mexican tradition from our neighbors south of the border and right here in Cherryland, and to share your own Nov traditions, from Thanksgiving to Movember, with others as well. Oh, and don’t forget that our clocks fall back one hour at 2 am on Sunday, Nov 4 and those who can go to the polls to vote should definitely do so on Nov 6!
-Pastor Marvin