No, I’m not talking about the Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, that life-affirming joyous celebration of life that happens in Mexico at this time of year.
I’m remembering our life in France. I’m remembering how, from early October and for the rest of the month, shops and markets would be crammed with pots and pots of chrysanthemums. It’s hard to know where they could all have been grown. Or how they could all find buyers. The Hard Discount supermarkets would sell them for a euro or two, while high-end florists expected a great deal more.
On All Saints’ Day, November 1st, all these chrysanthemums – white, russet, yellow, mauve, crimson – would suddenly appear in the cemeteries, jostled and packed onto family tombs . And those cemeteries weren’t just crowded with plants. Family groups make it their business to visit their deceased relatives in the season of Toussaint. The day itself is a public holiday, and so those family members who’ve died provide an excuse for a family get-together. Here’s a day when, out of respect, there’s no opportunity to air old grievances or argue over the family silver.
Foreign visitors can make a big mistake when coming to see their French friends at this time of year. ‘There were such a lot of lovely chrysanthemums in the shops, I couldn’t resist buying a pot for you’. It doesn’t go down well. There’s only one place for these flowers once they’ve left the shop. The graveyard.
What HAS happened to all my photos taken in France of Toussaint chrysanthemums in shops, markets, cemeteries? Who knows? I’ve had to rely on Unsplash, a brilliant collection of copyright-free photos, offered by the world’s photographers.
Today’s Ragtag Challenge is ‘Dead’.