/ Modified nov 3, 2013 9:04 a.m.

Do Souls Recognize Borders?

Anna Augustowska shares her observations about how two different places honor All Souls Day.

Throughout the annual Haunted Halloween Arizona Spotlight show, stories have been shared about restless spirits. Regardless of what form you believe these spirits may take, it is part of many traditions that we should try to be at peace with them. Here is an essay from Anna Augustowska, a journalism student and production intern at Arizona Public Media...

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My name is Anna Augustowska and I am from Wroclaw, Poland. I first came to Tucson in 2008 to visit a family friend. I remember it clearly. It was late October and my friend from Tucson said since it’s your first time in the US, and it's this time of the year, you should go and see how we celebrate the Day of the Dead. Still jet-lagged and under cultural shock, I went to the All Souls Procession.

There I saw a variety of people celebrating and mourning the lives of their loved ones at the same time. The idea of celebrating death surprised me as much as their costumes and artifacts. I recall one woman who had a skeleton painted over her belly. She was, I think, six months pregnant. I came up to her and asked; "Aren't you superstitious?"

"I am not," she said. "This will bring good luck!"

The events from Tucson remind me of how different the celebration of those who passed is in my home country, Poland. Our observance is neither loud nor colorful, but it does bring people together as the All Souls Procession does.

In Slavic tradition both days, All Saints and All Souls Day, happen every year on the 1st and 2nd day of November. They are devoted in particular to praying for the souls. On those days Polish cemeteries are full of people who come to visit the graves of their loved ones. The candles are lit and the flowers are placed. People talk about those who passed, and how their passing changed their lives.

Two years ago I lost my mother. She died of cancer. If I were still there, in Poland, I would go visit her grave today. My father sent me a picture of it the other day. He put flowers and candles. It looks beautiful.

Although I live in Tucson now, I will connect with her this year from the All Souls Procession. I may not be ready to carry her photo nor wear a skeleton costume myself, but since souls don’t recognize borders or distance, I know she will be there with me.

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