Ancestor’s Day

We’re all in a flurry over celebrating Halloween… but what about the holiday that Halloween used to precede? I think it’s time to bring back a celebration.

My great-grandfather and his family who immigrated from Russia in 1907.

Do you know the history of Halloween? How it was originally called All Hallows Eve, because it was the day (or evening) before All Hallowmas? It’s interesting how the evening celebrations have been kept, but the original holiday has been all but forgotten. I’d like to bring it back!

November 1st, All Hallowmas, or All Saint’s Day, was a day to celebrate those who had passed on. At times in history, only the Christian saints were celebrated, but at other times, all ancestors were remembered and honored. That’s the celebration I’d like to reinstate.

I think I’ll call it, Ancestor’s Day.

First of all, I love a good holiday! Celebrating holidays is one way I bring a little light into my life. Well… when it’s a light, fun celebration with no overwhelming task lists, of course!

Second of all, I love my ancestors! I’m blessed to know quite a bit of the history of my family and it just lights me up inside to know where I came from. I want to pass that on to my children and help us all feel love and gratitude for those who went before us.

So, how do I plan to celebrate our new holiday? Here are three things I’ve come up with:

  1. Stories – Sometime in the evening, we’ll all gather up and I’ll share stories about some of our ancestors. I’ll have my husband share stories about his as well. We’ve got some wonderful stories about the boys’ great-grandparents (our grandparents) who have passed on. I may tell them about my grandmother, who arrived in San Francisco at the age of 12, speaking German, Spanish, and Portuguese, but not English. When she complained to her mother, her mother told her to just go play outside and learn it! And so she did! If you don’t have many stories about your ancestors, this is a great time to ask your older relatives to tell you some. And be sure to write them down! I have so many wonderful stories about my grandmother, because my mom took the time to write them all in this amazing book.
  2. Photos – While we’re telling stories, I’ll bring out some of the wonderful photographs of some of our ancestors. It’s simply magical to be able to put a name to a face. Or to see what your grandfather looked like when he was a handsome sailor! The first time I saw this picture of my great-grandfather I couldn’t help but exclaim, “That’s where I got my deep-set eyes!” How fascinating it was to see that! Again, if you don’t have many photos, now is a great time to see if you can get copies from your older relatives. And uploading these photos to a website such as FamilySearch or Ancestry is a good way to preserve them.
  3. Food – Any good celebration has to include a bit of food, right? Several years ago, my mom put together a binder of family recipes and gave them to me and my siblings. It’s a treasure trove of food from all the branches of our family tree. I regularly pull down this binder and make something that one of my ancestors was known to make. There’s something so joyful about rolling out dough for the same homemade noodles that my Russian great-grandmother made. I feel so connected to my family in a very tangible way. Do you have family recipes? Or foods from the countries that your ancestors came from? This is a fun way to introduce them to your children! And if your family doesn’t have any family recipes yet, start your own!

I am truly grateful for my ancestors. Their lives have brought me to the place where I am. And while I may only know bits and pieces about them, we are connected to each other. I have always felt drawn to my ancestors in a powerful way.

Malachi 4:4 says, “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers…” Our hearts are connected. They are meant to be.

I plan to celebrate that connection on Ancestor’s Day.

Want to join me?


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