Our first trip to New Orleans in 1999 coincided with Halloween and All Saints and All Souls Days. Although we are Catholic, we had never participated in the traditions of going to the cemetery on November 1.
Our friend Sabina took us to our first All Saints cemetery experience to St. Louis #1 and St. Louis #2, probably the two most famous ones since they are in The French Quarter.
We have no family grave to tend, but we go to take care of the grave of our dear departed friend Miss Anne. It's nothing really, just a little kindness that makes us feel good. The cemetery is very peaceful, and doing some little mundane chore, like sweeping off the the headstone and leaving flowers and some trinkets, is very comforting.
Our loved ones rest far way from us, so having an adopted loved one to tend to makes us feel a part of this time and place.
All over Louisiana, people are tending the graves, washing tombs, sweeping up, planting new flowers, leaving trinkets behind.
Sabina and I made a yearly visit to St. Louis #1 and # 2. We have no one there, but we visited our favorite tombs, including Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau's. You mark an X on her tomb, asking that she guide you and grant a wish in the coming year. Sabina is no longer here (she moved away after Katrina), and I just don't feel like doing this without her.
We'd also bring candles and flowers, and candy, and sometimes little bottles of perfume. I'd bring tango things too, and a personal trinket from my jewelry box.
Though it's a family thing, it is also a solemn day for the church, and the priests come to add their blessings.
It's a custom that has been going on for nearly 300 years. It takes place during the day, unlike other ceremonies in the New Mexico that take place at night.