All Saints Day

My November mantle, complete with a wooden bowl of pumpkins under a large antique framed photo of two little girls whose names are lost to time....

Candles of celebration and remembrance on the mantle in front of a vintage confirmation photo from the 1900s

    For most of us here in the US, the noteworthy day in November is Thanksgiving. Which is a lovely holiday, to be sure. But there is another little special day in November--- actually, the reason for Halloween! All Saints Day--- or in Old English-- "All Hallow's Eve." All Saints Day, for churches that recognize it, is a time to remember and celebrate beloved saints as well as those friends and family members who have been lost in the past year. We had our All Saint's service today at my parish, and it reminded me why I love these special days; they force you to take time and take things in, to celebrate and remember and find joy or peace.    

   I did not grow up with saints. Aside from 'Santa Claus', the whole idea always seemed very 'other' and not what I was used to--- although I always did have a thing for lighting heaps of candles ;) Then almost two years ago we attended the Saint Nicholas festival at my daughter's preschool church and I fell completely in love- with the people, the liturgy, the art, everything. By Easter we were baptized and by Saint Dunstan's Day we were confirmed into the Episcopal Church. We've always been suckers for whirl-wind romances ;) (Will and I were engaged in 3 months! That was 9 years ago!)

    During these past couple of years I've been undecided about how much I'd like to share here about faith-- I certainly respect everyone's right to pursue it in their own way and don't want anyone to feel like I'm pushing anything on them. But especially during this time of year, when we enter into Advent, celebrate St. Nicholas Day, St. Lucia Day, and all the other important events in the liturgical calendar, I'd like to share with you the joy and fun I feel for these special times, and also explore new traditions for my own family, and also create new artwork inspired by these themes.
    And since the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church are so very similar, I'd love to hear from my English friends about your celebrations and special days! Last Christmas I received the book Cattern Cakes and Lace about special dishes that are served or used to celebrate certain feast days in the UK and I'd love to try my hand at some!
   First and foremost, what I'd like to celebrate here is joy and peace and pursuing a meaningful life. Whether it be through Tasha Tuesdays or Advent. There are so many ways to approach these things, but I believe it takes a decided effort to 'take joy' as Tasha would say, and I'd like to share with you my attempts to do so.

   And so, as we enter this magical time of the year, I'm so glad you're here to come along for the ride! I am so eager to paint...I'm working on several projects at once. The Christmas music is on constant play here in the studio--- the Cambridge Singers Radio on Pandora to be exact-- and something about Loreena McKennitt is just perfect for this time of year! 

   Well, it's off to bed for me! And then tomorrow, time to paint. 
Hope you are safe and well this evening, and my thoughts are with those still struggling after the terrible storm on the east coast! Hugs and prayers from the prairie!~

~H




12 comments

  1. Your religion, and the celebration of saints, sounds fascinating and awesome! I love the way you've decorated for this time of year too! You always make everything beautiful and magical.

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  2. I am not overly religious but I was raised Episcopal and I'm married to an Englishman- we love celebrating those little days- mainly as fun for the kids. I'd love to see how others do it. I have that book as well. I view small celebrations as important as the large ones to make joy a regular part of our lives. We will even make a bit of a fuss over "stir up Sunday" even though no one but my husband likes mince meat! :) Tonight is Guy Fawkes Night in the UK (Bonfire Night) which my husband loved as a child. We will make a "Guy", eat baked potatoes, and make a small fire in our outdoor fireplace. Just a bit of fun on an otherwise normal day. :)

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  3. As a fellow Episcopalian, the church's remembrance of those who went before us in November has always seemed so perfect before the quiet reflection period before Advent. For are we all not the by-product in some way of those who went before us? The big saints and all of the many small saints who have helped us make important decisions when we find ourselves at that fork in the road? The revelation that I find most helpful about All Saint's Day is that saints come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and notariety. We cannot shake the hand of St. Francis for extending kindness to animals, but we can shake the hand of our vet who saves our sick, sick horse by going above and beyond the call of duty to serve a scared and tearful 16 year old girl who cannot do anything but weave wildflowers into the halter of her beautiful but near death horse. A horse saved, a child's dream come true, that to me is an example of the saints that weave and fill our lives and for whom we say Thanks be to God!

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  4. The French celebrate all saint's day(la toussaint) -all I remember(as we didn't really celebrate it ourselves) is that it was a 'bank holiday',stores/schools/post offices etc. were closed and we'd have at least 1 day off school ;) I know they visit cemeteries and place flowers.My husband's family in Italy do the same...

    ~I always love your holiday decor :)so pretty!

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  5. Alyson-- Thank you! You know how I love to decorate, hehe. And this time of year fits both our sensibilities so well!~

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  6. Pattianne-- Greetings to another fellow Episcopalian! :D Love your little traditions and fun things you do for Guy Fawkes night! Honestly, I think I first learned of it by watching V for Vendetta ;) I love the very English traditions of our church, and you must know about so much more, having your own Englishman in the house ;) Happy Bonfire Night!~

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  7. Winnie--
    Wonderfully put! I think you are so right! If anything, the idea of a 'saint' is an example of regular people doing good and bringing peace and love and even miracles into the everyday. I think we're all on this Earth to learn to use our particular gifts to make life a better place for those around us, including people and animals. Hope you had a wonderful All Saints Day! Love the story about the vet :)

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  8. Andrea--
    I took several years of French in high school and college! I always loved learning about the culture and the special things they did (dont they have Wednesdays off from school and go to school on Saturday? Or did I dream that up??) I'm sure the French have wonderful traditions and foods to go along with their feast days! I remember eating King Cake in school and looking for the little Jesus in the cake ;)

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  9. Happy All Saints Day to you. Your paintings are amazing and I love the mood of your photography!

    Thank you so much for inspiring me today!

    blessings,
    karianne

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  10. The perception I have is that as the US becomes ever more religious in orientation - encompassing many different faiths and denominations - the UK becomes ever more secular. Our churches are emptying. Just this week it has been announced in our village that the Baptist chapel will close after Christmas. I am agnostic but faith fascinates me. Good post Heather :)

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  11. Hi Heather,
    Sometimes I can't get over how much we have in common when I visit here! My husband and I were also engaged within 3 months (married within 6 months) of meeting 9 years ago. The Episcopalian and Catholic churches are very similar. I love reading about the stories of the Saints! It can be difficult to figure out how much to share on our blogs about our faith. I try not to over-do it, and certainly would never try to push it on anyone. I see how much joy our faith can have in our lives and it's nice to see that here on your blog, too.
    Your blog is such a cozy place to visit! :)

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  12. This was a very honest post. Thank you, Heather. You can certainly share your faith here, as you wish. I was raised Catholic but am not currently a follower of any faith. But I can still respect the beliefs of others and appreciate the beauty of the art that translates from it. You have created some lovely faith-based works. And I have always taken a big interest in cultures and love learning about traditions of different countries, peoples and faiths. You are right - Loreena McKennitt is perfect for this time of year...do you have her holiday CD?

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Each and every comment is appreciated! Thanks for coming to visit me :) ~Heather

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