Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Toronto: November 1st, 2011 All Saints' Day

Victorian Lady aka Shirley Lum,
guide during Halloween Week Ghost Walks

How more appropriate could it have been that on Monday October 31st, 2011 we celebrated All Hallows Eve or Halloween along the Haunted Kensington, Chinatown & The Grange Walk. It's suppose to be the vigil of the Feast (the eve). And feast we did.  I kicked-off at Moon Bean Cafe with a ghost story complete with eerie multicultural twists, while guests noshed on Chocolate Rugullahs and sipped Hot Chocolates.  We reflected over how many consider Halloween pagan (and in many instances the celebrations are for many), as far as the Church is concerned the date is simply the eve of the feast of All Saints. Many customs of Halloween reflect the Christian belief that on the feast's vigils we mock evil, because as Christians, it has no real power over us. However, for some Halloween is used for evil purposes, in which many Christians dabble unknowingly. 

Dia de los Muertes window display
Courage My Love 2011
    In the Middle Ages, poor people in the community begged for "soul cakes," and upon receiving th
ese doughnuts, they would agree to pray for departed souls. This is the root of our modern day "Trick-or-Treat." The custom of masks and costumes developed to mock evil and perhaps confuse the evil spirits by dressing as one of their own. Some Christians visit cemeteries on Halloween, not to practice evil, but to commemorate departed relatives and friends, with picnics and the last flowers of the year.  Over the last few years, I've noticed more Mexican venues within Kensington Market and celebration of Dia de los Muertes (Day of the Dead) is becoming more mainstream. 

Look up!
At ROM's steps between the two
Marble Lions
How even more appropriate that tonight, Tuesday November 1st, 2011, All Saints' Day, I'll be conducting the Haunted Yorkville, U of T & Queen's Park Walk.  Guests will be haunted by a ghost story told  over delicious Hungarian Coffee Cakes and hot coffee at the oldest remaining cafe in Yorkville Village. I'll be leading my guests through one of Toronto's most oldest and revered university, and we will celebrate all the saints as we stroll through Victoria College (Methodist), St Michael College (Catholic), UC (non-denominational), and Trinity College (Anglican). All the while, I'll be sharing eerie ghost stories and slipping in Toronto's fascinating history in these three adjoining neighbourhoods.  

The day after All Saints day is called All Soul's Day,  a day to remember and offer prayers up on behalf of all of the faithful departed. I'm sure tonight's guests will be reflecting over some of the haunting tales on this day.  In many cultures it seems the two days share many customs. What customs do you still practise at this time of the year? Feel free to share

Art Deco Period costume perfect for
Millionaire's Row aka Queen's Park Circle

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