House, no, a country of wax

30.10.2005Osebno

The day of the dead is upon us. No, don`t worry, they shan`t riseth from their earthly coils…we are just paying a visit to them. The dead. They are busy pushing up dasies while we elected a special day to remember them.

Strike one – If people are worth remembering, you will remember them. If they are losers, they are not remembered. Not even on the 1st of November.

Although today was not the official day of the dead, the cemetaries were full of people, searching for the right graves. How morbid is that? “I think it`s here…no, not that one, let`s check the next stall…” Yeah. The person lying there is really special. No, not there, there!

I am also bothered by the amout of wax that gets wasted every year. Seriously, the gesture looses all romantic charge when you see people carrying 20+ candles around the cemetary. I know that every year you get to visit more graves (if you are unlucky) but still, the consumer instincts are not to be applied on the field of life and death.

I wonder why European countries are making this holiday a sad one. On the other side of the ocean the mexican people have their own Dia de los Muertos. Although the principle is basically the same, the actual holiday has a much more positive note. In short, they party. They bond. They reflect. And we throw candles around like it was candy.

Personally, I never did get cemetaries. And I would like to be burned and scattered into the wind. This graveyard logic does not bode with me.

 

En komentar na “House, no, a country of wax

  1. ill-advised

    I personally am rather fond of cemeteries as quiet, peaceful, calm places, and I’m rather fond of the notion that I’ll one day be “laid to rest” there. But I wouldn’t mind being scattered to the wind either. Admittedly, since I don’t believe in any kind of afterlife, I guess it would be silly if I had any strong preferences as to the disposal of my corpse. Anyhow, with all these customs related to burials and graveyards, we have to keep in mind always that all these things are being done for the sake of the living, not for the dead.

    I’m not sure why it’s morbid to see people who forgot the location of a grave. Sure, if you visit a grave often, you know where it is; but around the first of November, you might also want to visit the graves of one or two more distant relatives that you only visit once a year, and in that case surely it’s only natural that you might forget the precise location.

    I personally think that candles are rather nice. Different people attach different kinds of symbolism to them, but what I like best about them is the fact that the flame moves and dances around as if it were alive. That’s why I always disliked electric battery-powered candles.

    Not that I’m fond of any excesses of consumerism, but frankly, if a person has n graves that he wishes to commemorate, then that person needs n candles, and if n happens to be twenty, well, who am I to blame him? Of all the waste that is going on in the world, the waste of this small amount of wax is the smallest of all problems. And at least the candlemakers can make a living that way.

    It might not be very romantic to see somebody lugging a huge pack of candles around the cemetery, but I think it is rather romantic to see a nice row of candles burning in front of a grave. It is rather nice, I think, to come on November the first to the grave where there was only one candle, yours, throughout most of the year, and see on that day four, or five, or six candles in front of it, showing you that there are others who haven’t forgotten the deceased person yet.

    And besides, there’s one thing that, even if it were the only good consequence of our silly candle-burning first-of-November customs, would in my eyes be amply sufficient justification for these customs: the sight of a graveyard after dark in the days after November the first, with all those numerous candles burning in front of all the graves — especially if you can look at it from an elevated location — is a wonderfully, gorgeously beautiful one.

    Ah well. I guess I am in a morbid and sentimental mood today. Not to mention a slightly garrulous one. But I can’t help being saddened at your division of the dead people into “losers” and “those worth remembering”. Sure, I can feel hatred or contempt for some living people sometimes; but I like to cut some more slack for the dead. Most of us will eventually be forgotten. Does that makes us all losers? Must there be competition even among the dead? Sure, many of them had some faults while they were still alive. But then, who doesn’t? They may have been nasty people; but they probably also had some good sides; after all, who doesn’t? And as for their faults, who am I to blame it all on them? They were influenced by their environment and their heredity, after all. Who am I to say that I would have done better if it had been me in their shoes? Who knows how I will end up, how quickly or not will I be forgotten? Who am I to deride the dead as losers?

    To end on a completely inappropriate note, your mention of “pushing up daisies” reminded me of this splendid old piece of doggerel verse.

     

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