Monday, 1 November 2010

All Saints' Day? Why not pack some tea?

The first of November is All Saints' Day. Or All Hallows...or I'm sure there are other names for it. It's a national holiday in Germany, and the day when people go to their relatives' gravesite(s). Germans typically take excellent care of a gravesite throughout the year, but All Saints' (what they call Allerheiligen) is when they outdo themselves. Only the best fresh flower arrangements and candles.

This might seem like an unwanted or even unnecessary piece of advice. If I were going to spend considerable time on my day off in the cemetery, I'd definitely pack a thermos of tea. I wouldn't do anything symbolic like pour a bit of tea on the grave. At least I hope I wouldn't.

But accompanied by enough boiling hot Camellia sinensis, I'd be less likely to rush the whole procedure. Imagine sitting on a bench near the gravestone, and quietly pouring cup after cup of tea. If there is in fact any connection with the eternal soul of the person buried there, and I won't even begin to speculate on that one, then won't the whole experience be better if you're not thirsty? Or even a bit cold?

I'm not being glib. This really is where my thoughts brought me today, as I imagined people trudging off to pay their respects.

And if you're sitting there staring at a Jack o' Lantern filled with Halloween candy that you'd rather not devour all at one sitting? Yep. A nice pot of tea will slow that one down, as well.


  1. I was just asking this question today, "do Europeans celebrate Halloween?" And your blog answers it!

    It sounds somewhat similar to Qing Ming (in early spring) in China, when people pay respect to family grave sites. And people make it a day for picnic and outdoor enjoyments as well.

  2. My Irish friends insist that Halloween was actually invented in Ireland (a modern version of the Celtic festival of 'Samhain') and they still celebrate it throughout the British Isles.

    Only since the 1990s have pockets of people in Continental Europe started celebrating it. Where I live in Germany, some pubs make the most of it and isolated groups of children go trick or treating.

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  4. And All Saints Day has nothing to do with Halloween (apart from the Irish connexion).
    Any tea meditative enough for that day?