Alternative Halloween

Pueblo de muertos
Pueblo de los muertos

In Argentina the dead are given the goods: their own miniature town with the best view in the neighbourhood, flowers galore, gossipy prayer sessions with the living, and food. On the annual ‘day of the dead’ families spread picnics on the graves including the dead one’s favourite dishes, tell stories, and celebrate their life and memory.


This year (in NZ) we lit candles one by one and wrote beside them the names of our remembered dead: grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends who died too young. I thought especially of Clare at sixteen — stroppy, funny and fiercely intelligent. She loved hockey, Latin and our pink VW, and appointed herself window cleaner when my flatmates and I moved house in her neighbourhood. The day before a bus knocked her from her bike, she bought flowers for her mother. After the funeral I was shown the tiny striped socks she’d just knitted for our new first baby. Clare was always as bracing as a tonic; just thinking of her straightens my spine…

2 responses to “Alternative Halloween”

  1. I had wanted to acknowledge that the idea came from a website but I couldn’t remember whose; must have been his, thanks, C. Yes, it’s a great thing that these days we’re able to ‘visit the cemetery’ with something more approaching wonder.

  2. Hi Pen – love what you’ve written here. Thank you.

    Our friend Robert W posted a similarly inspired piece on Pueblo de los muertos for 5th which I’m sure you will have seen. In the context of my own life, both your words and his have cast light on where & how I’ve been these past days; particularly in relation with death and remembering. How liberating it is to be able to embrace the Halloween festival & its accompanying rituals from a soul place now (where once it was with fear & suspicion).