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New Orleans Celebrates All Saints Day At Cemeteries

While much of the United States considers November 1 as just the day after Halloween, New Orleans marks a more spiritual holiday. Many in the city spend All Saints Day sprucing up cemeteries.

In historic Lafayette Cemetery Number 1 in the Garden District, tourists are commonly found strolling around the tombs. But on All Saints Day, it’s more of a family destination. Lifelong New Orleanian Earlyn Pickering Jaster donned a wide-brimmed white hat as she tended to the family tomb. It’s the final resting place of her relatives going back to her great-grandfather, who died in 1880. She arranges flowers that include some artificial varieties.

“They last. The other ones just don’t last. So if you want to keep it pretty then you know, that’s what I find works," said Jaster. "And then what I’ve also done is — all the different ones — is I change them. I’ll take the old ones and I’ll put them on other tombs so the whole row gets all filled up. So you’ve got to keep the whole neighborhood pretty, you know.” 

She says that taking care of the tomb and its surroundings is a peaceful endeavor.  

“It’s quiet. It’s nice. And, something I told my husband, when I get home from here I’m always just bubbly and happy, most of the time anyway.  But here, strangers come by from all over and they don’t know so they ask me and whatever it is — it’s right. So I can’t be wrong here, so I like that too.”

Lafayette Cemetery Number 1, which she correctly tells visitors opened in 1833, has extended hours on All Saints Day. It also remains open longer for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

Eileen is a news reporter and producer for WWNO. She researches, reports and produces the local daily news items. Eileen relocated to New Orleans in 2008 after working as a writer and producer with the Associated Press in Washington, D.C. for seven years.

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