Painting by José Arrue. Source: Felix Mugurutza.

All Souls Day was t the main date to honour the departed in Basque traditions until half a century ago and was celebrated on 2 November. Conversely, its eve, All Saints Day on 1 November, was a time of religious services and little else.

Incidentally, the night of the souls – much vaunted to “disguise” the imported Halloween – is in reality the night between 1 and 2 November and not the previous one.

Yet… Where did all this confusion come from? (more…)


Offerings on All Souls’ Day in Obanos (Nafarroa), 1972. José Ibáñez. Taken from Funeral Rites in the Basque Country.

There is a spiritual bond between the living and the dead in Christian tradition. Both belong to a single community: the former in the current world and the latter in the world to come. That is why our dead would be remembered at family mealtimes, such as Christmas Eve dinner, when saying grace and in diary prayers. A frequently used formula would be Por los que han salido de esta casa, which translates as ‘Let us remember the departed members of this household’. (more…)