On the eve of the 1st of November takes place All Hallows’ Night: After twilight, the boundaries separating the realm of the living from the realm of the dead fade, and we are invaded by the souls of our ancestors and infernal spirits of the night.
On the vigil of All Hallows’ Day, the Deceased’s Magüestu is held, which is the collection and roasting of chestnuts outdoors, by a bonfire. All members of the family sit around the fire and upon conclusion, they cast the remaining chestnuts to the ground saying: “This is for the deceased to eat!”.
After dinner, it is time for the so-called round of the holy souls, which consists on offering them a Lord’s Prayer. In this respect, Asturians from a rural environment are rather respectful to the souls of the ancestors and so, on the anniversary of the death of a person, they hold a banquet in their honour, wherein an empty place is reserved for the deceased.
It is believed that, on the Deceased’s Night, the souls leave the Other World and return momentarily to the living world, to remember past times: Thus, they sit by the hearth and start talking amongst themselves. One has to try not to have a very strong flame lest it reach them; also, the trivet ought not to be left on or the deceased could sit on it and burn themselves.
The floor ought not to be swept at night either, as we could expel them from the house, and not slamming the doors suddenly either, lest we hurt a spirit who happened to be there. Furthermore, the farmers yield their beds to the deceased, so they can lie on them; they also ensure that all the buckets and smithies have plenty of water, so the spirits can drink when passing by.
On that very night, small lamps are lit over oil pots, and each one is lit after the soul of a deceased. The first lamp to go off indicates that the soul after whom it was lit just left Purgatory. If this deceased did not need that lamp for being already in Heaven or Hell, the lamp would burn for the most necessitated soul from the rest.
The deceased also roam the pathways and many people place pumpkins with carved-out faces on the crossroads, representing the soul of a dead person. It is dangerous to go out at night on this date, as one can encounter the Güestia anywhere, as it happened to some fishermen from Cuideiru, who saw from the sea this phantasmal procession walking by the shore.
On the following morning, families go to the cemetery to visit their deceased relatives, to whom they offer a yew branch, which will aid them to return to the Other World. Moreover, in many parts of Asturies, farmers do not work on this day out of respect and reverence for the deceased.
Translation Asturian to English:
Sergio Fernández Redondo
Photos and ilustrations:
1st.- Painting titled “Filandón del Monesteriu d’Hermo”, painted by Luís alvarez Catalá in 1872.
2nd.- Example of banquet for the deceased in Asturias.
3rd.- Lantern made with turnips.
4th.- Lantern made with turnips.