The religious part of the Christian festival begins on the 1st with the usual visit to the municipal cemetery, where family and friends come to lay flowers or candles for their loved ones or to share memories or experiences. In the afternoon, a mass takes place in the cemetery, beginning with the eve of All Souls’ Day, which ends with the first ‘toques a muerto’ until the evening. The next day is the typical day for people to go to church for masses in remembrance of the deceased.
The Christian religious festival began in the Middle Ages as an attempt to channel the pagan celebration towards the remembrance of All Saints and the dead, despite which the faithful developed other unorthodox customs in the form of superstitions such as placing luxurious cloths and cloths on graves or coloured candles, dances of purgatory or funeral feasts, which were persecuted by the Council of Trent.
During the Baroque period, meditation on death became very important and the festival developed greatly. During the Baroque period, meditation on death was of great importance and the festival became very popular. In the 18th century, cemeteries began to be moved to the outskirts of towns, although the measure was not fully developed until well into the 19th century, which led to the celebration being moved to two different locations: cemeteries and churches. In cemeteries, the obligatory visit to deceased relatives, and in churches, masses in remembrance of their souls.
The primitive cemetery of Sant Joan was always located next to the church, but its location gradually changed around the church. In the 19th century it was moved to its current location in La Coix, at the foot of Mount Calvari, although we do not know the exact date of this event, although we do know that in 1885 important works were carried out in the cemetery. The last alteration took place at the beginning of this century, including in the perimeter one of the old cisterns on the slopes of Calvario. Interesting pantheons from the late 19th and early 20th centuries can still be seen.
With regard to the legends associated with the dead and souls, there was or is a belief that the souls of the dead return to their homes on these days, hence the importance of everything being in perfect condition, especially the beds.
The current funeral ritual is very simplified, but until not long ago it was very traditional with very old roots. According to the financial position of the deceased the celebration would be different, reflected especially in the funeral procession presided over by an artistic carriage decorated with velvets with fringes and gilded railings and pulled by paved and engualdrapados horses in which the coffin was deposited. There was a popular saying that said: ‘quant més rics, més animals’, which summarized with a satirical tone the social differentiation of the deceased according to the number of horses that pulled the hearse. That parade was opened by the cross and behind it the clergy and the people participated, making three stops on the route. Lackeys could also participate with swords and liveries on their shoulders escorting the carriage.
However, in most cases the burials were of humble people and therefore very simple. However, in most cases the burials were of humble people and by When dying someone was preparing in a room of the house the wake with the ‘body present’ while the bells began to announce to the people the death. very simple. The deceased was veiled night and day in the house attended by family, friends and curious, until the moment of his transfer to the church for the funeral, when the priests who started the responso came. From there the men marched to the church carrying the coffin, while the women remained in the house initiating prayers that could last several days. After the funeral ceremony, the procession was organized again from the church to the La ConcepciÃ³n estate, where the procession was dismantled and the attendants dismissed the relatives of the deceased with condolences. From there, those who wished continued to the cemetery where the deceased was buried.
Curious case represents the liturgy of the ‘mortitxolets’, ‘albaets’ or deceased children. It was a sad celebration that, however, had a festive ritual trying to symbolize the death of the little ones in purity and innocence and their direct passage to heaven, supposed reason for joy. In the 19th century especially, and part of the 20th, such celebrations were generalized, including dances and banquets around the candle and burial of children, and the funeral in the church followed a liturgy of joy in thanksgiving. When the funeral procession arrived at the exit of the village on the way to the cemetery, the typical formula in Sant Joan d’Alacant to give condolences was: ‘Be congratulations’, as a way of congratulation for the ascent of the boy or girl’s soul to heaven, although it may sound like a joke.
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In Sant Joan d’Alacant, coinciding with the feast of All Saints and the faithful departed, the ‘Queixalet‘ was celebrated until the 1960s. In Sant Joan d’Alacant coinciding with the feast of All Saints and faithful departed It consisted of a lunch for the altar boys and bell ringers to replenish the forces of the long work that involved staying for hours in the bell tower and playing the many touches of deceased and souls that happened those days. until the sixties the ‘Quixalet’. As an example, on the 1st of November, the tolls were played from five in the afternoon until the end of the day, and on the 2nd, dedicated to the All Souls, from four in the morning, when the masses began. The food or money with which the food was acquired from this agape came from the donation of the neighbors. To this end, a few days before the ‘Quixalet’, the altar boys walked through the streets and farms of the town clad in cassock and rocker carrying carrycots and a bell they rang upon arrival to warn the inhabitants of the house that they were going to collect for the ‘Quixalet’. The end result was a splendid and succulent dinner in the ‘cuarto vel’ of the church on the 1st, followed by a similar lunch the next day, refreshments that never lacked chops, sausages, black pudding and fried tomato washed down with a good wine, followed by desserts with fruit and quince jelly. In theory the donations of the neighbors were a kind of payment to the bell ringers and helpers for their service by ringing the bells and thus remembering the deceased and reminding everyone of the obligation to pray and go to Mass these days.
In the church the liturgy proper to the deceased was celebrated with the Novena of Souls. In the main altar of the parish was placed a burial mound of four floors with black fabrics in which appeared embroideries alluding to death with skulls and skeletons with scythes, hourglasses or death phrases. That macabre armatous that exceeded the 7 meters of height was also illuminated with torches, since the temple remained in penumbra, while funeral songs were sung and the bells sounded the touches of the deceased. A large white cross finished off the mound. It was a perfect resource to frighten anyone, to which must be added the misdeeds of the jokers, especially children, who hid under the fabrics and made sounds from beyond the grave or moved the skeletons. Nowadays, these rituals have disappeared from the celebration.