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November Days of Saints and Souls

La Toussaint — All Saints’ Day — Emile Friant (1863–1932) — public domain

first days of November and Flanders’ graveyards bloom to the dictate of tradition under chrysanthemum’s rule virgin white, regal purple and yellow’s hope festoon the tombs and shatter the grey monotony of stone with every single petal a memory to someone lost though all of us do hope to thwart this flowery tradition and be remembered more often than merely once a year


It is the saddest of flowers, at least in these parts of the world — Belgium, France, Italy — the chrisanthemum, flower of death. Each year, on All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day, families perform the traditional pilgrimage to their ancestors’ tombs and place these flowers as a token of remembrance. The cut flowers last about a week, ten days at most, before they wilt, their colours fading, November frost tarnishing their edges an ugly brown. And then, the ancestors will have to wait, till next year, to be honoured with some colour. It is a sad tradition.

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