All Saints' Day

Cemetery of DiamantAll Saints' Day is every year on November 1. This day is dedicated to pay tribute to the beloved death persons. While in France, Toussaint is only one holyday (November 1), in Martinique it is two days (November 1 and 2).

Martinique is very respectful of Christian holidays, given the high proportion of Christians (more than 90% of the population) in the island. Toussaint is a very strong party in Martinique. There is no significant difference in the way of understanding the two days of Toussaint. Like all major Christian holidays (Easter, Pentecost and Christmas), Toussaint is something that prepares collectively and in advance.

For several decades, Toussaint is an opportunity to bring the "big family" (extended family structure with the presence of grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc ...) in the cemeteries to remember the memories of lost loved ones. Previously, in the days before November 1, Toussaint, children were assigned by their parents brushes, brooms and household products to go scouring the graves of their family. Parents would later make the necessary work and repaint the tombs. For two decades, things have changed somewhat.

They are young in the vicinity of cemeteries that are stepping up to clean, repair doors and windows and repainting tombs in exchange for small amounts. In Martinique, the graves in cemeteries are white and the whole cemetery is painted white. The use of white in mourning and death is almost certainly referring to the legacy of former slaves who wore white at the funeral of missing relatives. The "white" means the resurrection of the body. Today in Martinique, at funerals, people wear white (bodily resurrection tradition from Africa) and black (the color of sadness, death, end, tradition from Europe).

The previous day Saints are the annual period of sprucing cemeteries and so it is the unrest in these places used to silence. Once cleaned graves , they are very close flowery day or the eve of All Saints. Be careful though, if there was some agitation in cemeteries, neighborhoods agitation does not prevailed. The atmosphere was calm. The mind was not at the party and family gatherings were discrete or were so modest. Previously, it was unthinkable to have a party at home the previous days of Toussaint.

Today the silence and the calm wanted are very rare, especially this "funeral atmosphere" was based on the fear of the judgment of his neighbors.

The morning of Saints'day, families go to church dressed absolutely white, the priest will honor all the saints as it should. Everyone wish a happy birthday because that day is the feast of all saints and therefore all names.

Cemetery illumination At nightfall, families visit the cemeteries where their loved ones are buried, bringing with her ​​candles to illuminate the graves. Contrary to what one might think, the recollection of families is not a sad moment. If in France, it is a peaceful silence, Martinique, All Saints'day is a time when smiles and good humor entering cemeteries. The family members who had not seen for a long reminisce about the good times with the missing person.

It's time to rediscover the cousin lost sight, to find an old classmate also come to pay tribute to a missing or get news of an old aunt who we promise next visit. Besides the moment of reunion is purely based on the family exchange and therefore has a strong social aspect, it is also a moment more "historical" with some transmission of knowledge, culture and history between generations which we are witnessing.

Grandparents tell younger how Toussaint celebrated in their time, the time of their parents' or their grandparents'. If adults argue, children enjoy to play and run around the cemeteries often playing hide and seek. After a few hours of family reunion, and some others leave , promising to meet again soon . Most times, these promises will stick at the door of the cemetery and the opportunity to review will be the next Toussaint.

The only difference between 1 and 2 November is the content of the mass. On November 2 , the priest says Mass about missing persons. This Mass is called "Mass of the Dead". Unlike other religious festivals where there is a special meal, there is no meal type for the All Saints' Day. Martinique is very festive ! Do not be shocked to hear the first sounds of drums and choir singing christmas songs the day after !