In the fall and winter months, I travel to the Lyons Sportsmen’s Club to do some indoor target shooting. It’s a lonely drive from Canandaigua to Lyons as I prefer to follow the back two lane roads and stay off the New York Thruway.
My trip takes me through the little Finger Lakes village of Oaks Corners. Just before Oaks Corners, I pass by Oaklawn, a country cemetery. I am somewhat surprised at all of the Halloween decorating done in this little country cemetery. The graves are neatly kept and decorated with fall flowers, pumpkins, or perhaps a flag if a veteran is buried there. There are also candles and solar lights set at some of the headstones.
I pass the Oaks Corners cemetery on my way home in the darkness of the night. The graves which are marked by solar powered lights give the whole scene a sort of eerie spookiness that makes me want to keep on going as I hurry home.
Most of our Halloween practices can be traced back to Celtic tradition. Around Halloween time which was the beginning of the Celtic year, they believed that Samhain, the lord of death, sent evil spirits abroad to attack humans who could only escape by assuming disguises and looking like evil spirits themselves.
What is the purpose of grave lights in a cemetery? Do they keep the evil spirits from rejoicing and playing nasty tricks there? Or are they just markers which make the graves visible to us humans both day and night? My guess is that it’s just a way for families to remember their deceased members.
James R. Bupp