Thursday, November 1, 2012

La Toussaint

Aujourd'hui est le jour de La Toussaint en France.

Today is La Toussaint in France, a national holiday. Although the word is a combination of the word tous ("all" in French) and saint, meaning "All Saint's Day," it is also "All Soul's Day." La Toussaint is closely related to the Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration in Latin cultures. It is a day to remember, celebrate, and honor departed loved ones and ancestors.

In France, people visit cemeteries to have picnics and to tend to the graves of family members and decorate them with chrysanthemums, a flower symbolizing death (a symbol shared with Day of the Dead); generally, the French do not use this flower for any other purpose.

In honor of the day, I present some lovely images of the most famous cemetery in France, possibly the world: Père Lachaise, the largest cemetery in the city of Paris.

There are many famous people--writers, actors, composers, public figures, politicians, scientists, even rock stars (Jim Morrison)--buried at Père Lachaise. Below are the graves and monuments for Edith Piaf, Marcel Proust, Oscar Wilde (a very interesting, very Streamline Moderne monolith for him!), and Chopin. I have visited these tombs many times over the years and it never ceases to amaze me, as I wander and look at the names, just how many well-known people are interred here. For an easy alphabetical list of famous citizens of the cemetery, see the Wiki entry for Père Lachaise here.

Visit the Père Lachaise website for an absolutely fantastic virtual tour. You can wander around the beautiful serene avenues, admire the sculptural tombstones, or search graves by name!

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